"Time with the Philosophers" Archive

“Glory, with us, is not for
lending out
so those who want take it by strength
or more often exhort it with a gun

We let them, knowing as we do
what men can take, what they cannot”

- from "Borrowed Airs" by Kobena Eyi Acquah

"I want to go to Keta
where boys drum all the day
and the girls dance agbadza
to keep the tears away"

- from "I Want to Go to Keta" by Kobena Eyi Acquah

"No time, please, for a masterpiece
You have to understand

The mind, faced with absolute evil -
its surest refuge is silence

So we feign dumbness -
proven camouflage -
unless we would, also, die
like fools"

- from "No Time for a Masterpiece" by Kobena Eyi Acquah

“If you educate a man, you educate an individual but if you educate a woman, you educate a whole nation.”

- Dr. Kwegyir Aggrey

"[The American hippie movement] comes with freedom - a certain type of freedom which I think no black person in this world has right now. It's almost like doing something which is beautiful and nice because you want to do it - like writing a story about lovers in Paris - it is beautiful, it is nice. But whereas [Francoise] Sagan could do it, and she does do it with a whole lot of relevance and validity, I cannot see myself as a writer, writing about lovers in Accra because you see, there are so many other problems..."

-Ama Ata Aidoo

“For us Africans, literature must serve a purpose: to expose, embarrass, and fight corruption and authoritarianism. It is understandable why the African artist is utilitarian.”

-Ama Ata Aidoo

"The honey bee had plans in store
for his Mother-Queen: he went across the world
gathering fragrance from dreamy waterlilies
from lonely desert blooms
Some other gatherer came with plans
all for his own desires
Our hive went up in flames. I was away."

- from "A Harvest of Our Dreams", by Kofi Anyidoho

"we will make heroes out of streetboys
train felons into statesmen
now world assemblies deal in lies
let us recruit liars for diplomats"

- from "Soweto", by Kofi Anyidoho

"I have always felt, perhaps involuntarily, I should take my poetic sensibility... from the tradition that sort of feeds my language, because in my language there is a lot of poetry... even though it is not written, and so I take my cue from this old tradition, and begin to break it into English, to give it a new dimension."

-Kofi Awoonor

Robert Serumaga: People are trying to forge a new kind of African writing in English or in French. Do you think we are succeeding very much?

Kofi Awoonor: Well, I would say yes; there are a lot of African writers who have really succeeded... I feel that African writing is moving; it's moving about say four or five generations into a new field which is going to mean that African writers are going to go back and find materials and inspiration in their own societies to write about. They move from the period of Osadebay and Michael Dei-Anang and so on, the political writing, to personal writing which is going to be defined as writing committed to a certain positive aspect of African life.

- Robert Serumaga and Kofi Awoonor

"The failure of craft in Nigerian poetry is complimented by an absence of concern for craft among Nigerian critics. Critical practice so far has concentrated on explication of themes and obscurities of texts and on attempts to invent meaning where often there is none. Far from pruning and nurturing craft, the Nigerian critics indulge in lengthy debates on the sociology of African writing or on the origins and merits of negritude and tigritude, or hunt down borrowings, allusions and other scholarly exotica, all the while avoiding the more vital functions of criticism."

– Chinweizu, from "Towards the Decolonization of African Literature"

"A poem cannot just be, it has to also mean – regardless what anyone says to the contrary."

– Chinweizu, from "Towards the Decolonization of African Literature"

"I'm not the fighting type
But go ahead make my day
You gonna fight me physically
I'm gonna fight you spiritually
I'm gonna fight you truthfully"

- from "My Game", by Lucky Dube

“As you live, believe in life! Always human beings will live and progress to greater, broader and fuller life. The only possible death is to lose belief in this truth simply because the great end comes slowly.”

- W.E.B. DuBois

“If you know the world, you know the greatest men had humble beginnings.”

- Marcus Garvey

“The arc of the moral universe is long but bends towards justice.”

- Martin Luther King Jr

Lewis Nkosi: What do you feel is the greatest lacking in Nigeria at the moment as far as your life as a writer is concerned, or otherwise?

Wole Soyinka: The greatest lack I think quite frankly is criticism. We have not at the moment got good critics in Nigeria and European critics are not helping by being Eurocentrically condescending, applying a different standard of writing.

-Lewis Nkosi and Wole Soyinka

"Freedom is not something that one people can bestow on another as a gift. They claim it as their own and none can keep it from them."

- Kwame Nkrumah

"woman! woman!
how often you carry heaviness
of your soul...only to empty it into songs..."

- from "Lorgorligi Logarithms", by Atukwei Okai

"You don't always have to have a message when you communicate. You are thinking through a problem or something. If this is a problem which forms the theme of your play you ought to be able to communicate it. It's simple - the aim is that Ghanaians shall understand the art that we think we are doing you see - that's all. It's as simple as that.

-Efua Sutherland

"Tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today."

- Malcolm X