“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.”
“If you don’t like someone’s story, write your own.”
“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.”
“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.”
“When a tradition gathers enough strength to go on for centuries, you don’t just turn it off one day.”
“When the British came to Igbo 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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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”
“That we are surrounded by deep mysteries is known to all but the incurably ignorant.”
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.
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
Because storytellers are a threat. They threaten all champions of control, they frighten usurpers of the right-to-freedom of the human spirit - in state, in church or mosque, in party congress, in the university of wherever. That’s why.
Anthills of the Savannah
Remembering Chinua Achebe, who died Friday at the age of 82.