Being and becoming African as a permanent work in progress: inspiration from Chinua Achebe’s proverbs


  • Prof Francis B. Nyamnjoh University of Cape Town, South Africa



This lecture explores what we could learn about being and becoming African as a permanent work in progress from how Chinua Achebe adopts and adapts Igbo proverbs in his writing.


Download data is not yet available.


Achebe C. 1958. Things fall apart. Oxford: Heinemann (African Writers Series).

Achebe C. 1974[1964]. Arrow of God. Oxford: Heinemann (African Writers Series).

Achebe C. 1983[1977]. An image of Africa and the trouble with Nigeria. London: Penguin Books.

Achebe C. 1988. Hopes and impediments: selected essays. New York: Anchor Books.

Achebe C. 2000. Home and exile. New York: Anchor Books.

Achebe C. 2012. There was a country: a personal history of Biafra. London: Allen Lane.

Adichie AN. 2009. The thing around your neck. London: Fourth Estate.

Bhebe N and Viriri A. 2012. Shona Proverbs: palm oil with which African words are eaten. Gweru: Booklove Publishers.

Chinua Achebe Quotes. n.d. BrainyQuote. Available at: [accessed 21 July 2013].

Chinua Achebe: why Google honours him today. 2017. 16 November. Aljazeera. Available at: [accessed 9 August 2020].

Currey J. 2008. Africa writes back: the African writers series and the launch of African literature. Oxford: James Currey.

Dei GJS, Darko IN, McDonnell J, Demi SM and Akanmori H. 2018. African proverbs as epistemologies of decolonization. New York: Peter Lang Inc., International Academic Publishers.

Emenyonu EN. 2014. Introduction. In: Emenyonu EN and Nnolim CE (eds). Remembering a legend: Chinua Achebe. New York: African Heritage Press.

Famous Quotes Of Prof Chinua Achebe. 2013. Nairaland Forum. 22 March. Available at: [accessed July 23 2020].

Fouet F and Renaudeau R. 1976. Littérature Africaine: L’Engagement. Dakar: Nouvelles Editions Africaines.

Fouet F and Renaudeau R. 1984. Littérature Africaine: Le Deracinement. Dakar: Nouvelles Editions Africaines.

Gilley B. 2016. Chinua Achebe on the positive legacies of colonialism. African Affairs. 115(461): 646-663.

Msiska M-H. 2008. Introduction. In: Achebe C. Things fall apart. Oxford: Heinemann (African Writers Series).

Nigerian author Chinua Achebe dies. 2013. BBC News. 22 March. Available at: [accessed 21 August 2013].

Nyamnjoh FB. 2002. A child is one person’s only in the womb: domestication, agency and subjectivity in the Cameroonian grassfields. In: Richard Werbner (ed). Postcolonial subjectivities in Africa. Zed Books: London.

Nyamnjoh FB. 2013b. Fiction and reality of mobility in Africa. Citizenship Studies 17(6-7): 671-673.

Nyamnjoh FB. 2020. “Amos Tutuola as a quest hero for endogenous Africa: actively Anglicizing the Yoruba language and Yorubanising the English language,” Acta Academica 52(1): 89-98.

Obiakor FE, Okoro D and Mukuria GM. 2017. Life lessons of African proverbs. Milwaukee: Cissus World Press.

Okolo MSC. 2007. African literature as political philosophy. London/Dakar: CODESRIA/Zed Books.

Throwing mud African proverb. The African Gourmet. Available at: [accessed 11 August 2020].

Ukwuaba OK. 2015. A linguistic study of proverbs and language identity in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and Arrow of God. MA thesis. Lagos: University of Lagos.





Public lecture