Does the white man understand our custom about land?” “How can he when he does not even speak our tongue? But he says that our customs are bad; and our own brothers who have taken up his religion also say that our customs are bad. How do you think we can fight when our own brothers have turned against us? 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.
—  Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart

Nelson Mandela (1918 - 2013) and Chinua Achebe (1930 - 2013).

“Death is something inevitable. When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace. I believe I have made that effort and that is, therefore, why I will sleep for the eternity.” ~ Nelson Mandela, 1996

Literary Birthday - 16 November

Happy Birthday, Chinua Achebe, born 16 November 1930

Chinua Achebe: 12 Quotes On Stories

  1. If you don’t like someone’s story, write your own.
  2. To me, being an intellectual doesn’t mean knowing about intellectual issues; it means taking pleasure in them.
  3. Nobody can teach me who I am. You can describe parts of me, but who I am - and what I need - is something I have to find out myself.
  4. My weapon is literature.
  5. People create stories create people; or rather stories create people create stories.
  6. Storytellers are a threat. They threaten all champions of control.
  7. It is the storyteller who makes us what we are, who creates history. The storyteller creates the memory that the survivors must have - otherwise their surviving would have no meaning.
  8. The emperor would prefer the poet to keep away from politics, the emperor’s domain, so that he can manage things the way he likes.
  9. We cannot trample upon the humanity of others without devaluing our own.
  10. If you only hear one side of the story, you have no understanding at all.
  11. The only thing we have learnt from experience is that we learn nothing from experience. 
  12. 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 is a Nigerian novelist, poet, professor, and critic. He is best known for his first novel and magnum opus, Things Fall Apart, which has sold more than 8 million copies around the world, and been translated into 50 languages. Achebe is the most translated African writer of all time.
Nelson Mandela referred to Achebe as a writer ‘in whose company the prison walls fell down’.
Achebe is the recipient of over 30 honorary degrees. He has been awarded the Man Booker International Prize, the Commonwealth Poetry Prize, an Honorary Fellowship of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Nigerian National Order of Merit.

by Amanda Patterson for Writers Write


On writing: 5 Literary voices we lost this year

The Guardian has a great article collecting quotes about life from writers we lost this year, but here’s what each had to say about writing:

Doris Lessing: “You should write, first of all, to please yourself. You shouldn’t care a damn about anybody else at all. But writing can’t be a way of life - the important part of writing is living. You have to live in such a way that your writing emerges from it.”

Chinua Achebe: “Imaginative literature does not enslave; it liberates the mind of man. Its truth is not like the canons of orthodoxy or the irrationality of prejudice and superstition. It begins as an adventure in self-discovery and ends in wisdom and humane conscience.”

Seamus Heaney: “The gift of writing is to be self-forgetful … to get a surge of inner life or inner supply or unexpected sense of empowerment, to be afloat, to be out of yourself.“

Elmore Leonard: "So many people say, ‘I’m dying to write.’ Well, if you’re dying to write, why aren’t you writing? If you’re not writing, you’re not dying to do it enough.”

Iain Banks: “Writing is like everything else: the more you do it the better you get. Don’t try to perfect as you go along, just get to the end of the damn thing. Accept imperfections. Get it finished and then you can go back.