Professor Chinualumogu Achebe was born on this day in 1930. The world-renowned novelist won a scholarship to study medicine at the University College (University of Ibadan) but changed to English literature.
During his studies, his fascination for the African culture and world religions grew and he began to write stories. His first novel, Things Fall Apart, written in 1958, became a world seller and won several global literary prizes. The book has been translated to over 50 languages and is a reference tool for the African culture. He has other stories to his portfolio: No Longer at Ease (1960), Arrow of God (1964), A Man of the People (1966), and Anthills of the Savannah (1987).
Here is a list of proverbs from the African poet:
- One of the truest tests of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised.
- People create stories create people; or rather stories create people create stories.
- When suffering knocks at your door and you say there is no seat for him, he tells you not to worry because he has brought his own stool.
- There is no story that is not true, […] The world has no end, and what is good among one people is an abomination with others.
- My position is that the Nobel Prize is important. But it is a European prize. It’s not an African prize … Literature is not a heavyweight championship. Nigerians may think, you know, this man has been knocked out. It’s nothing to do with that.
- The original oppression of Woman was based on crude denigration. She caused Man to fall, so she became a scapegoat. No, not a scapegoat which might be blameless but a culprit richly deserving of whatever suffering Man chose thereafter to heap on her. That is Woman in the Book of Genesis. Out here, our ancestors, without the benefit of hearing about the Old Testament, made the very same story differing only in local color. At first the Sky was very close to the Earth. But every evening Woman cut off a piece of the Sky to put in her soup pot, or in another version, she repeatedly banged the top end of her pestle carelessly against the Sky whenever she pounded millet or, as in yet another rendering – so prodigious is Man’s inventiveness, she wiped her kitchen hands in the Sky’s face. Whatever the detail of Woman’s provocation, the Sky moved away in anger, and God with it.
- If you don’t like someone’s story, write your own. The world is like a Mask dancing. “While we do our good works let us not forget that the real solution lies in a world in which charity will have become unnecessary. The white man is very clever. Nobody can teach me who I am.
- A man who calls his kinsmen to a feast does not do so to save them from starving. They all have food in their own homes. When we gather together in the moonlit village ground it is not because of the moon. Every man can see it in his own compound. We come together because it is good for kinsmen to do so.
- There is that great proverb — that until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.
- A kinsman in trouble had to be saved, not blamed; anger against a brother was felt in the flesh, not in the bone.
- The white man is very clever. He came quietly and peaceably with his religion. We were amused at his foolishness and allowed him to stay. Now he has won our brothers, and our clan can no longer act like one. He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart.