Tag Archives: Chinua Achebe

A Short, Cringe-Worthy Post: Achebe and Emecheta

I HATE when critics compare African novelists – whether they be Anglophone, Francophone or Lusophone – to Chinua Achebe.  It’s as though Achebe is the only writer to have ever written anything noteworthy on the Continent and that all writers thereafter must somehow be compared to his work.  Don’t get me wrong, he was a brilliant man; but there are countless other outstanding African authors (both past and present) who will blow you away in a variety of unique ways.

With that said, I have to make a statement that I swore I would never make about any author, particularly one coming from Nigeria.  Buchi  Emecheta’s The Joys of Motherhood reminds me of Achebe’s writing, specifically, Things Fall Apart.  There I said it.

Both authors are from Nigeria, Igbo/Ibo roots to be specific, and both write in a descriptive and introspective manner.  Both novels tackle social and cultural norms from a gender specific lens – Emecheta from a woman’s perspective and Achebe from a man’s – rooted in their village’s practices.  Both protagonists also fall victim to their loyalty for tradition, obligation, and ancestral legacy.  I use the word victim because historic events play a strong background role in both novels, a role which neither protagonist foresaw.

For me, the similarities don’t end there but the purpose of this post is to ask our readers for their thoughts on the two novels …

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Happy Birthday Chinua Achebe

In honor of the late, great Chinua Achebe’s birthday today, we are paying homage to his legacy. You may be familiar with his most famous work, Things Fall Apart, as it may have been your first introduction to literature from the continent. Achebe, a Naija born and raised, also wrote a number of essays, poems, and critiques that are as relevant today as they were when originally published.

So without further ado, Here are a few of our favorite Achebe quotes:

“I tell my students, it’s not difficult to identify with somebody like yourself, somebody next door who looks like you. What’s more difficult is to identify with someone you don’t see, who’s very far away, who’s a different color, who eats a different kind of food. When you begin to do that then literature is really performing its wonders.”

“If you don’t like someone’s story, write your own.”

“We cannot trample upon the humanity of others without devaluing our own. The Igbo, always practical, put it concretely in their proverb Onye ji onye n’ani ji onwe ya: “He who will hold another down in the mud must stay in the mud to keep him down.” (The Education of the British-Protected Child)

“There is no story that is not true.” (Things Fall Apart)

“My weapon is literature.”

“People from different parts of the world can respond to the same story if it says something to them about their own history and their own experience.” (There Was A Country: A Personal History of Biafra)

“I would be quite satisfied if my novels (especially the ones I set in the past) did no more than teach my readers that their past – with all its imperfections – was not one long night of savagery from which the first Europeans acting on God’s behalf delivered them” (Morning Yet on Creation Day)

Tell us your favorite Achebe quote . . .

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