Best Quotes from Chinua Achebe

Once you allow yourself to identify with the people in a story, then you might begin to see yourself in that story even if on the surface it’s far removed from your situation. This is what I try to tell my students: this is one great thing that literature can do – it can make us identify with situations and people far away.

Chinua Achebe

When a tradition gathers enough strength to go on for centuries, you don’t just turn it off one day.

Chinua Achebe

Art is man’s constant effort to create for himself a different order of reality from that which is given to him.

Chinua Achebe

One of the truest tests of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised.

Chinua Achebe

The problem with leaderless uprisings taking over is that you don’t always know what you get at the other end. If you are not careful you could replace a bad government with one much worse!

Chinua Achebe

The whole idea of a stereotype is to simplify. Instead of going through the problem of all this great diversity – that it’s this or maybe that – you have just one large statement; it is this.

Chinua Achebe

The damage done in one year can sometimes take ten or twenty years to repair.

Chinua Achebe

The only thing we have learnt from experience is that we learn nothing from experience.

Chinua Achebe

A functioning, robust democracy requires a healthy educated, participatory followership, and an educated, morally grounded leadership.

Chinua Achebe

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.

Chinua Achebe

When I began going to school and learned to read, I encountered stories of other people and other lands.

Chinua Achebe

The relationship with my people, the Nigerian people, is very good. My relationship with the rulers has always been problematic.

Chinua Achebe

Democracy is not something you put away for ten years, and then in the 11th year you wake up and start practicing again. We have to begin to learn to rule ourselves again.

Chinua Achebe

Oh, the most important thing about myself is that my life has been full of changes. Therefore, when I observe the world, I don’t expect to see it just like I was seeing the fellow who lives in the next room.

Chinua Achebe

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.

Chinua Achebe

What a country needs to do is be fair to all its citizens – whether people are of a different ethnicity or gender.

Chinua Achebe

People say that if you find water rising up to your ankle, that’s the time to do something about it, not when it’s around your neck.

Chinua Achebe

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.

Chinua Achebe

When old people speak it is not because of the sweetness of words in our mouths; it is because we see something which you do not see.

Chinua Achebe

When the British came to Ibo land, for instance, at the beginning of the 20th century, and defeated the men in pitched battles in different places, and set up their administrations, the men surrendered. And it was the women who led the first revolt.

Chinua Achebe

People create stories create people; or rather stories create people create stories.

Chinua Achebe

The last four or five hundred years of European contact with Africa produced a body of literature that presented Africa in a very bad light and Africans in very lurid terms. The reason for this had to do with the need to justify the slave trade and slavery.

Chinua Achebe

A man who makes trouble for others is also making trouble for himself.

Chinua Achebe

The most important thing about myself is that my life has been full of changes. Therefore, when I observe the world, I don’t expect to see it just like I was seeing the fellow who lives in the next room.

Chinua Achebe

Each of my books is different. Deliberately… I wanted to create my society, my people, in their fullness.

Chinua Achebe

I’ve had trouble now and again in Nigeria because I have spoken up about the mistreatment of factions in the country because of difference in religion. These are things we should put behind us.

Chinua Achebe

I was a supporter of the desire, in my section of Nigeria, to leave the federation because it was treated very badly with something that was called genocide in those days.

Chinua Achebe

But I liked Yeats! That wild Irishman. I really loved his love of language, his flow. His chaotic ideas seemed to me just the right thing for a poet. Passion! He was always on the right side. He may be wrongheaded, but his heart was always on the right side. He wrote beautiful poetry.

Chinua Achebe

There’s no lack of writers writing novels in America, about America. Therefore, it seems to me it would be wasteful for me to add to that huge number of people writing here when there are so few people writing about somewhere else.

Chinua Achebe

Nigeria has had a complicated colonial history. My work has examined that part of our story extensively.

Chinua Achebe

I liked Yeats! That wild Irishman. I really loved his love of language, his flow. His chaotic ideas seemed to me just the right thing for a poet. Passion! He was always on the right side. He may be wrongheaded, but his heart was always on the right side. He wrote beautiful poetry.

Chinua Achebe

Nigera is what it is because its leaders are not what they should be.

Chinua Achebe

Stories serve the purpose of consolidating whatever gains people or their leaders have made or imagine they have made in their existing journey thorough the world.

Chinua Achebe

Once you allow yourself to identify with the people in a story, then you might begin to see yourself in that story even if on the surface it’s far removed from your situation.

Chinua Achebe

Americans, it seems to me, tend to protect their children from the harshness of life, in their interest.

Chinua Achebe

They have not always elected the best leaders, particularly after a long period in which they have not used this facility of free election. You tend to lose the habit.

Chinua Achebe

Presidents do not go off on leave without telling the country.

Chinua Achebe

I don’t care about age very much.

Chinua Achebe

I think back to the old people I knew when I was growing up, and they always seemed larger than life.

Chinua Achebe

My parents were early converts to Christianity in my part of Nigeria. They were not just converts; my father was an evangelist, a religious teacher. He and my mother traveled for thirty-five years to different parts of Igboland, spreading the gospel.

Chinua Achebe

Once a novel gets going and I know it is viable, I don’t then worry about plot or themes. These things will come in almost automatically because the characters are now pulling the story.

Chinua Achebe

The people you see in Nigeria today have always lived as neighbors in the same space for as long as we can remember. So it’s a matter of settling down, lowering the rhetoric, the level of hostility in the rhetoric is too high.

Chinua Achebe

An artist, in my understanding of the word, should side with the people against the Emperor that oppresses his or her people.

Chinua Achebe

In fact, I thought that Christianity was very a good and a very valuable thing for us. But after a while, I began to feel that the story that I was told about this religion wasn’t perhaps completely whole, that something was left out.

Chinua Achebe

Many writers can’t make a living. So to be able to teach how to write is valuable to them. But I don’t really know about its value to the student. I don’t mean it’s useless. But I wouldn’t have wanted anyone to teach me how to write.

Chinua Achebe

My position is that serious and good art has always existed to help, to serve, humanity. Not to indict. I don’t see how art can be called art if its purpose is to frustrate humanity.

Chinua Achebe

I think an artist, in my definition of that word, would not be someone who takes sides with the emperor against his powerless subjects. That’s different from prescribing a way in which a writer should write.

Chinua Achebe

I don’t care about age very much. I think back to the old people I knew when I was growing up, and they always seemed larger than life.

Chinua Achebe

I’m a practised writer now. But when I began, I had no idea what this was going to be. I just knew that there was something inside me that wanted me to tell who I was, and that would have come out even if I didn’t want it.

Chinua Achebe