I did not think of writing as a career and I don’t think that I did this ever really, but I think of writing as something that I could do, I should do alongside whatever else I was doing. It simply grew on me.
In dealing with a man who thinks you are a fool, it is good sometimes to remind him that you know what he knows but have chosen to appear foolish for the sake of peace.
There is that great proverb — that until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.
Those who are talking sharia in Nigeria are really just politicians exploiting what they think is available. But if it should turn out that there are in fact whole sections of the country which believe that it is legitimate to chop off peoples hands because they stole a hen – if that should really turn out to be the genuine belief of responsible, educated people in the North than I would say there is no chance. But I do not believe that is the case. The sharia was always there but it was never force onto non-Muslims and it was not ever applied in the area of criminal law.
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.’
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.
Art is created to make us, to make our passage through the world better, fruitful – and I would say that every story in the end, if it is good, tells us something. This is actually what I meant when I said a novelist is a teacher. Which is why I am constantly dealing with “didactic”. Now a teacher in the sense I use it is not somebody who has the profession of standing in front of children, with a piece of chalk in his hand scribbling on the blackboard. That is not the teacher I have in mind. The teacher I have in mind is something less tangible.
Mosquito […] had asked Ear to marry him, whereupon Ear fell on the floor in uncontrollable laughter. “How much longer do you think you will live?” she asked. “You are already a skeleton.” Mosquito went away humiliated, and any time he passed her way he told Ear that he was still alive.
People go to Africa and confirm what they already have in their heads and so they fail to see what is there in front of them. This is what people have come to expect. Its not viewed as a serious continent. Its a place of strange, bizarre and illogical things, where people dont do what common sense demands.
The trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership. There is nothing basically wrong with the Nigerian land or climate or water or air or anything else. The Nigerian problem is the unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise to the responsibility, to the challenge of personal example which are the hallmarks of true leadership.
Children are very fair minded, they really are.
If you only hear one side of the story, you have no understanding at all.
If you were to loose the habit of making the effort to get the book and read the words one by one you would have lost something terribly important. So I think that we have a task to ensure that this doesn’t happen.
Africa is to Europe as the picture is to Dorian Gray-a carrier onto whom the master unloads his physical & moral deformities
It is not quite true to say that I am not an advocate of writing in African languages. What I think is, one has to think about what is practicable.
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.
We don’t want to be simply wandering about without some kind of reason, we want our presence here to have a purpose, and that we are not going to end here, we are going to proceed somewhere else, and also that we didn’t begin here, that we began somewhere else and all that living, all that elaborate account of our presence seems to be quite basic to our nature and so this is what literacy taps into.
I find Nigeria very frustrating. I am not alone in this. There are many Nigerians abroad. As you know, the brain drain is just incredible. And when we talk to one another and there is a certain sense of frustration and but I struggle not to let the frustration degenerate into dispair.
When brothers fight to death a stranger inherit their father’s estate
One of the truest tests of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised.
The damage done in one year can sometimes take ten or twenty years to repair.
Man is sitting disconsolate on an anthill one morning. God asks him what the matter is and man replies that the soil is too swampy for the cultivation of the yams which God has directed him to grow. God tells him to bring in a blacksmith to dry the soil with his bellows. The contribution of humanity to this creation is so important. God could have made the world perfect if he had wanted. But he made it the way it is. So that there is a constant need for us to discuss and cooperate to make it more habitable, so the soil can yield, you see.
We live in a society that is in transition from oral to written. There are oral stories that are still there, not exactly in their full magnificence, but still strong in their differentness from written stories. Each mode has its ways and methods and rules. They can reinforce each other; this is the advantage my generation has – we can bring to the written story something of that energy of the story told by word of mouth.