Achebe's The Trouble With Nigeria

By Tobi

10 quotes from Chinua Achebe's The Trouble With Nigeria.

Image: AP / Craig Ruttle via  The Atlantic .

Image: AP / Craig Ruttle via The Atlantic.

Achebe, Achebe, Achebe. I have gushed countlessly (okay, maybe twice) about his writing and why it never fails to resonate. One, for his ability to mirror the truth, and unapologetically so. Second, for his storytelling; his hilarious yet sharp-cutting narratives. More than anything, what distinguishes his work is its relevance – from his anti-colonial African Trilogy to A Man Of The People – which permeates several decades. This latter reason, notably, is major thanks to the fixity of Nigeria’s - its leaders and populace - unwillingness to implement radical change to upturn its history.

In his infamous booklet written in 1983, The Trouble With Nigeria, Nigeria’s years of political instability feature yet again as a canvas. The author brazenly discusses 10 fundamental areas that “cripple” and “inhibit” Nigeria as a state, people and nation. Achebe pools his varied experience and excerpts from daily newspapers to prove, indeed, that “the only thing [Nigeria] has learnt from experience is that we learn nothing from experience.” Of the numerous quotes favourited, I share 10 that that will leave you snapping your fingers while reading The Trouble With Africa Nigeria.


1. Where The Problem Lies

2. Tribalism

Whenever two Nigerians meet, their conversation will sooner of later slide into a litany of our national deficiencies...consigning a life-and-death issue to the daily routine of small talk.
Nothing in Nigeria’s political history captures her problem of integration more graphically than the chequered fortune of the word tribe in her vocabulary.

3. False Image Of Ourselves

4. Leadership, Nigerian-Style

I know enough history to realize that civilization does not fall down from the sky; it has always been the result of people’s toil and sweat, the fruit of their long search for order and justice under brave and enlightened leaders.
A basic element of [Nigeria’s leadership] misfortune is the absence of political thought of our founding fathers — a tendency to pious materialistic woolliness and self-centred pedestrianism.

5. Patriotism

6. Social Injustice and the Cult of Mediocrity

A true patriot will always demand the highest standards of his country and accept nothing but the best for and from his people.

...the real explosive potential of social injustice in Nigeria does not reside in the narrow jostling among the elite but in the gargantuan disparity of privilege they have created between their tiny class and the vast multitudes of ordinary Nigerians.

7. Indiscipline

8. Corruption

There is indeed no better place to observe the thrusting indiscipline in Nigeria than on the roads: frenetic energy, rudeness, noisiness...
Nigerians are corrupt today because the system under which they live today makes corruption easy and profitable...

9. The Igbo Problem

10. The Example Of Aminu Kano

The lack of real leaders in Igboland goes back, of course, to the beginnings of colonial administration...the average Igbo leader’s mentality has not been entirely free of the collaborating Warrant Chief syndrome. have told us that you want our votes so that you can serve us. If we get killed while you are getting the vote, who then will you serve?

Have you read Achebe's The Trouble With Nigeria? What are your favourite quotes?


20 Summer Reads We Recommend

Though some may argue that referring to July as summer in Nigeria is pretentious, truth remains that it is the most anticipated time of the year for both in-house Nigerians and those in the diaspora — students are on holiday, and many others are taking a much needed break from work.

Summer is certainly the perfect time to catch up on your reading! Whether you are trying to get lost in a good book, or avoid the chit-chat with strangers, TBBNQ writers have made you a list of books to read, including short notes on why we recommend each.



And After Many Days

By Jowhor Ile

“Ile's writing is a lyrical beauty as he tells a heartbreaking story about a boy who goes missing, and the aftermath as his family grapples with that loss during the political instability of 90's Nigeria.”


The Book Of Night Women 

By Marlon James

“An extremely poignant book which I found difficult to put down. This is a book that is written so well that it offers the reader the opportunity to exercise empathy in its purest form. You'll enjoy Lilith's character in particular!”

Daughters Who Walk This Path 

By Yejide Kilanko

“A coming of age tale that explores the dynamics of growing up as a woman in Nigeria. Kilanko highlights cultural burdens imposed on women from a very young age.”

Second Class Citizen

By Buchi Emecheta

“Second Class Citizen was so immersive that it made me feel like I had travelled overseas with the main character. Though I read it as a teenager, the story remains vivid in my mind.”

Stay With Me

By Ayobami Adebayo

“This book tells a story of loss and love lost so beautifully that it made me laugh, cry, scream and sing. It is filled with poetic writing and mind-blowing twists. It’s no wonder it was shortlisted for the 2017 Bailey’s Prize!”

Read our review here.

The Secret Lives Of Baba Segi’s Wives

By Lola Shoneyin

“In this book, you’ll meet your neighbour, that ‘uncle’, and possibly some members of your extended family. Though the storyline is predictable, it’s a hilarious and accurate reflection of a (polygamous) Nigerian household!

Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun 

By Sarah Ladipo Manyika

“This is a short and sweet delight! Manyika creates one of my favourite protagonists in Morayo Williams, and shows that aging does not have to be end of sexuality or happiness.”

The Woman Next Door

By Yewande Omotoso

“A decades-long discord between two women is reconsidered as deeper issues like racism and infidelity bubble to the fore in this wickedly witty tale!”





There Was A Country: A Personal History Of Biafra

By Chinua Achebe

“Achebe offers a personal account of the Nigerian civil war and explores the complexities of a post-war Nigeria. Staying true to his captivating use of language, Achebe leaves you with no emotion unfelt."

The Chibok Girls

By Helon Habila

“This book is sure to awaken the slumbered humanity within anyone. It not only gives a good understanding of the core issues of the resurgence in Northern Nigeria, but succinctly maps the evolution and dysfunction of Nigeria. It brings you to a new level of shook.”

We have a copy travelling through Lagos and Abuja. Send an email to find out more!

A History Of Nigeria

By Toyin Falola and Matthew Heaton

“A multidimensional resource on Nigerian history from the transatlantic slave trade to post-independence; Biafra, military regimes and civilian rule. The authors’ ability to embrace and document the cultural evolution of the Nigerian people makes it richer.”

Against The Run of Play

By Olusegun Adeniyi

“Against the Run of Play reflects on the defeat of an incumbent party by the opposition in the 2015 presidential election. Adeniyi provides insight into leadership and institutional factors that contributed to the unseating of the long running ruling party.”



James Baldwin: The Last Interview And Other Conversations

By James Baldwin

“Baldwin is spectacular — a truth-teller and all-round cool dude. There can only be one Baldwin, but let's just say that if your priest/pastor were Baldwin incarnate, you would never miss Church on Sundays.”

Dear Ijeawele, Or A Feminist Manifesto In Fifteen Suggestions

By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“Adichie has always been vocal about feminism, and, in Dear Ijeawele, she puts together a great guide on raising children in a way that will ensure we someday have a society where gender equality is the norm.”

This book is also travelling through Lagos. Send an email to join in!

Born A Crime

By Trevor Noah

“Easily one of my favourite books read in 2017! It's a perfect blend of humour and sentiment as it gives a view of South Africa through the eyes of TV host and comedian, Trevor Noah, and the lessons he learnt from his exceptional mother.”

How Europe Underdeveloped Africa

By Walter Rodney

“Walter Rodney explores the role of the capitalist nature of the International Political Economy in suppressing Africa’s economic potential. This book reiterates the importance of regarding historical inequalities and the economics of colonialism.”



Of course, reading does not end with summer! Here are a few books - yet to be released on the continent - we cannot wait to get our hands on!


To purchase any of the books, follow the links provided or, contact us for nation wide delivery.