Quotes from Anthills in the Savannah

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“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.”

“Charity . . . is the opium of the privileged.”

“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 or wherever.”

“It is only the story…that saves our progeny from blundering like blind beggars into the spikes of the cactus fence.The story is our escort;without it,we are blind.Does the blind man own his escort?No,neither do we the story;rather,it is the story that owns us.

“It is the story that owns and directs us. It is the thing that makes us different from cattle; it is the mark on the face that sets one people apart from their neighbors.”

“Procrastination is a lazy man’s apology.”

“In the vocabulary of certain radical theorists contradictions are given the status of some deadly disease to which their opponents alone can succumb. But contradictions are the very stuff of life. If there had been a little dash of contradiction among the Gadarene swine some of them might have been saved from drowning.”

“Charity … is the opium of the privileged; from the good citizen who habitually drops ten kobo from his loose change and from a safe height above the bowl of the leper outside the supermarket; to the group of good citizens (like youselfs) who donate water so that some Lazarus in the slums can have a syringe boiled clean as a whistle for his jab and his sores dressed more hygienically than the rest of him; to the Band Aid stars that lit up so dramatically the dark Christmas skies of Ethiopia. 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.”

“…she was sensitive enough and intelligent enough to understand, and her literary education could not but have sharpened her perception of the evidence before her eyes: that in the absurd raffle-draw that apportioned the destinies of post-colonial African societies two people starting off even as identical twins in the morning might quiet easily find themselves in the evening one as President shitting on the heads of the people and the other a nightman carrying the people’s shit in buckets on his head.”

“Ife onye metalu’ [‘what a man commits’] – a statement unclear and menacing in its very inconclusiveness. What a man commits…Follows him? Comes back to take its toll? Was that all? No, that was only part of it … The real burden of that cryptic scripture seemed to turn the matter right around. Whatever we see following a man, whatever fate comes to take its revenge on him, can only be what that man in some way or another, in a previous life if not in this, has committed. That was it! So those three words wrapped in an archaic tongue and tucked away at the tail of the bus turn out to be the opening segment of a full-blooded heathen antiphony offering a primitive and quite deadly exposition of suffering. The guilty suffers; the sufferer is guilty. As for the righteous, those whose arms are straight, they will always prosper!”

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