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Friday, March 22, 2013

RIP Chinua Achebe: A Master Storyteller And His Quotes

22nd March 2013 - the world lost a great storyteller today: Chinua Achebe....

The first time I got a glimpse of this master storyteller's magic was when I read one of his most popular work - Things Fall Apart.

It was the first time I was reading African literature, and as I turned each page, I couldn't help but get lost in the wilderness and richness of a culture that was so different from mine, yet felt so connected in some way. I was bowled over!

By the time I reached towards the end, I had already fallen in love with the characters, thinking of them as my own friends, people who were facing a common enemy, friends who were facing an assault on themselves, their culture and their beliefs, and it was making me jumpy. I so wanted them to be able to live the life they were leading. I was engrossed, connected and the story forever imprinted on my mind and heart.

It's been at least 10 years I first read Things Fall Apart, and I am about to read it again (it's a co-incidence that the news of Chinua Achebe's passing away came when it did. I wasn't able to locate my old copy of the book and just bought a new one.)

As I was going through the online world, I couldn't help but want to share a few wonderful quotes of the master story teller himself....

Art is a man's constant effort to create for himself a different order of reality from that which is given to him.

People create stories create people; or rather stories create people create stories.

Nigeria is what it is because it's leaders are not what they should be.

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

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

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.

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.

Democracy is not something you put away for 10 years and then in the 11th year you wake up and start practicing again. We have to begin to learn to rule ourselves again.

What a country needs to do is to be fair to all its citizens - whether people are of a different ethnicity or gender.

I tell my students, it's not difficult to identify with somebody like yourself, somebody next door who looks like you. What's more difficult is to identify with someone you don't see, who's very far away, who's a different colour, who eats a different kind of food. When you begin to do that then literature is really performing its wonders.

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.

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. - from Things Fall Apart.

There is no story that is not true. The world has no end, and what is good among one people is an abomination with others.

My weapon is literature.

Writers don't give prescriptions. They give headaches!

RIP Master Storyteller.....may you create many more wonderful tales right up there!!!!

- Debolina Raja Gupta