78 Chinua Achebe Quotes from Nigerian Novelist & Poet

Born in Nigeria in 1930, acclaimed novelist Chinua Achebe is known for his insightful portrayal of African societies undergoing transformation due to Western influence.

His novels explore themes ranging from initial colonial contact to the moral dilemmas faced by educated Africans navigating changing societal values.

Achebe, who also had a career in broadcasting and publishing, supported Biafra during the Nigerian Civil War and worked as a professor in both Nigeria and the United States.

Chinua Achebe

He authored a wide range of works, including novels, short stories, children’s books and essays, winning the Man Booker International Prize in 2007.

Chinua Achebe most famous novel is Things Fall Apart.

Below are the most inspiring quotes by Chinua Achebe.

Best Chinua Achebe Quotes


She pouted her lips like a gun in my face. ~ Chinua Achebe.


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


Do you blame a vulture for perching over a carcass? ~ Chinua Achebe.


There is no story that is not true. ~ Chinua Achebe.


An old woman is always uneasy when dry bones are mentioned in a proverb. ~ Chinua Achebe.


When a coward sees a man he can beat he becomes hungry for a fight. ~ Chinua Achebe.

Age was respected among his people, but achievement was revered. As the elders said, if a child washed his hands he could eat with kings. ~ Chinua Achebe.


I have learned that a man who makes trouble for others makes trouble for himself. ~ Chinua Achebe.

A toad does not run in the daytime for nothing. ~ Chinua Achebe.

Privilege, you see, is one of the great adversaries of the imagination; it spreads a thick layer of adipose tissue over our sensitivity. ~ Chinua Achebe.


A man who lived on the banks of the Niger should not wash his hands with spittle. ~ Chinua Achebe.

There is a moral obligation, I think, not to ally oneself with power against the powerless. ~ Chinua Achebe.


Famous Chinua Achebe Quotes

When a man is at peace with his gods and ancestors, his harvest will be good or bad according to the strength of his arm. ~ Chinua Achebe.


Men have learned to shoot without missing their mark and I have learned to fly without perching on a twig. ~ Chinua Achebe.

The women are, of course, the biggest single group of oppressed people in the world and, if we are to believe the Book of Genesis, the very oldest. ~ Chinua Achebe.

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

The lizard that jumped from a high Iroko tree to the ground said he would praise himself if no-one else did. ~ Chinua Achebe.


It always surprised him when he thought of it later that he did not sink under the load of despair. ~ Chinua Achebe.

Every generation must recognize and embrace the task it is peculiarly designed by history and by providence to perform. ~ Chinua Achebe.

Top Chinua Achebe Quotes

When a mad man walks naked, it is his kinsmen who feel shame, not himself. ~ Chinua Achebe.


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

Wisdom is like a goatskin bag; every man carries his own. ~ 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.

The price a world language must be prepared to pay is submission to many different kinds of use. ~ Chinua Achebe.


Procrastination is a lazy man’s apology. ~ Chinua Achebe.

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

Popular Chinua Achebe Quotes

Do not be in a hurry to rush into the pleasures of the world like the young antelope who danced herself lame when the main dance was yet to come. ~ Chinua Achebe.

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. ~ Chinua Achebe.

Nobody can teach me who I am. ~ Chinua Achebe.

Women and music should not be dated. ~ Chinua Achebe.

Whatever music you beat on your drum there is somebody who can dance to it. ~ Chinua Achebe.


A man of worth never gets up to unsay what he said yesterday. ~ Chinua Achebe.

To me, being an intellectual doesn’t mean knowing about intellectual issues; it means taking pleasure in them. ~ Chinua Achebe.

Wise Chinua Achebe Quotes

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

Become familiar with your home, but know also about your neighbors. The young man who never went anywhere thinks his mother is the greatest cook. ~ Chinua Achebe.

When mother-cow is chewing grass its young ones watch its mouth. ~ Chinua Achebe.

When a new saying gets to the land of empty men, they lose their heads over it. ~ Chinua Achebe.

Literature, whether handed down by word or mouth or in print, gives us a second handle on reality. ~ Chinua Achebe.

Nigeria is what it is because its leaders are not what they should be. ~ Chinua Achebe.


Whenever you see a toad jumping in broad daylight, then know that something is after its life. ~ 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.

Thought-Provoking Chinua Achebe Quotes

My weapon is literature. ~ Chinua Achebe.

A man’s life from birth to death was a series of transition rites which brought him nearer and nearer to his ancestors. ~ Chinua Achebe.

A disease that has never been seen before cannot be cured with every-day herbs. ~ Chinua Achebe.

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. ~ Chinua Achebe.


If you only hear one side of the story, you have no understanding at all. ~ Chinua Achebe.

There is that great proverb – that until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter. ~ Chinua Achebe.

Living fire begets cold, impotent ash. ~ Chinua Achebe.

Inspiring Chinua Achebe Quotes

The sun will shine on those who stand before it shines on those who kneel under them. ~ Chinua Achebe.

Let the kite perch and let the eagle perch too – If one says no to the other, let his wing break. ~ Chinua Achebe.

A kinsman in trouble had to be saved, not blamed; anger against a brother was felt in the flesh, not in the bone. ~ Chinua Achebe.

There was a saying in Umuofia that as a man danced so the drums were beaten for him. ~ Chinua Achebe.

If you don’t like someone’s story, write your own. ~ 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.

Profound Chinua Achebe Quotes

A man who does not lick his lips, can he blame the harmattan for drying them? ~ Chinua Achebe.

I feel that the English language will be able to carry the weight of my African experience. But it will have to be a new English, still in full communion with its ancestral home but altered to suit new African surroundings. ~ Chinua Achebe.


If a child washed his hands, he could eat with kings. ~ Chinua Achebe.

An angry man is always a stupid man. ~ Chinua Achebe.

You must develop the habit of skepticism, not swallow every piece of superstition you are told by witch-doctors and professors. ~ Chinua Achebe.

Among the Igbo the art of conversation is regarded very highly, and proverbs are the palm-oil with which words are eaten. ~ Chinua Achebe.

A coward may cover the ground with his words but when the time comes to fight he runs away. ~ Chinua Achebe.

When an old man dies, a library burns to the ground. ~ Chinua Achebe.

Inspirational Chinua Achebe Quotes


A goat does not eat into a hen’s stomach no matter how friendly the two may be. ~ Chinua Achebe.

A boy sent by his father to steal does not go stealthily but breaks the door with his feet. ~ Chinua Achebe.

When the moon is shining the cripple becomes hungry for a walk. ~ Chinua Achebe.

We cannot trample upon the humanity of others without devaluing our own. ~ 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.

If you don’t like someone’s story, write your own. If you don’t like what somebody says, say what it is you don’t like. ~ Chinua Achebe.

Motivational Chinua Achebe Quotes

Travelers with closed minds can tell us little except about themselves. ~ Chinua Achebe.


When brothers fight to death a stranger inherit their father’s estate. ~ Chinua Achebe.

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. ~ Chinua Achebe.

A man who pays respect to the great paves the way for his own greatness. ~ Chinua Achebe.

There is nothing to fear from someone who shouts. ~ Chinua Achebe.

It is praiseworthy to be brave and fearless, but sometimes it is better to be a coward. We often stand in the compound of a coward to point at the ruins where a brave man used to live. ~ Chinua Achebe.

The world is like a Mask dancing. If you want to see it well, you do not stand in one place. ~ Chinua Achebe.

People create stories create people; or rather stories create people create stories. ~ Chinua Achebe.

Every lizard lies on its belly, so we cannot tell which has a belly-ache. ~ Chinua Achebe.

So these were the 78 top Chinua Achebe quotes and sayings.

If you like these quotes and sayings, then you can also read my other posts on Catherine Pulsifer quotes and John Calvin quotes.

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Chandan Negi
Chandan Negi

I’m the Founder of Internet Pillar - I love sharing quotes and motivational content to inspire and motivate people - #quotes #motivation #internetpillar