Chinua Achebe (b. November 16): “My weapon is literature.”

16 Nov

Chinua Achebe (born 16 November 1930, died 21 March 2013) was a Nigerian novelist, poet, professor, and critic. He was best known for his first novel and magnum opus, Things Fall Apart, which sold more than 8 million copies around the world, and was translated into 50 languages. Achebe was the most translated African writer of all time. Nelson Mandela referred to Achebe as a writer ‘in whose company the prison walls fell down’. The recipient of more than 30 honorary degrees, he was awarded the Man Booker International Prize, the Commonwealth Poetry Prize, an Honorary Fellowship of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Nigerian National Order of Merit.

Quotes on writing:

  1. My weapon is literature.
  2. If you don’t like someone’s story, write your own.
  3. Storytellers are a threat. They threaten all champions of control.
  4. If you only hear one side of the story, you have no understanding at all.
  5. The only thing we have learnt from experience is that we learn nothing from experience.
  6. To me, being an intellectual doesn’t mean knowing about intellectual issues; it means taking pleasure in them.
  7. 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.
  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. Stories serve the purpose of consolidating whatever gains people or their leaders have made or imagine they have made in their existing journey through the world.
  10. 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.

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