Wednesday, July 10, 2013

#Quotes: Quotes from Bessie Head's When Rain Clouds Gather

It's only education that turns a man away from his tribe. [3]

It was the mentality of the old hag that ruined a whole continent - some sort of clinging, ancestral, tribal belief that a man was nothing more than a grovelling sex organ, that there was no such thing as privacy of soul and body, and that no ordinary man would hesitate t jump on a mere child. [10]

Well-educated men often come to the crossroad of life .. One road might lead to fame and importance, and another might lead to peace of mind. It's the road of peace of mind that I'm seeking. [15]

In this country there is a great tolerance of evil. It is because of death that we tolerate evil. All meet death in the end, and because of death we make allowance for evil though we do not like it. [23]

It was his belief that a witty answer turneth away wrath and that the oil of reason should always be poured on troubled waters. [48]

Tie a man's hands behind his back and then ask him if he's going to chop down a tree. [61]

One might go so far as to say that it is strong, dominating personalities who might play a decisive role when things are changing. Somehow they always manage to speak with the voice of authority, and their innate strength of character drives them to take the lead in almost any situation. Allied to all this is their boundless optimism and faith in their fellow men. [76]

You find yourself throwing blows but weeping at the same time, because of all the people who sit and wail in the darkness, and because of all the fat smug persecutors to whom this wailing is like sweet music, and some inner voice keeps on telling you that your way is right for you, that the process of rising up from the darkness is an intensely personal and private one, and that if you can find a society that leaves the individual to develop freely you ought to choose that society as your home. [82]

Most men want to achieve great victories ... But I am only looking for a woman. [99]

There seemed to be ancient, ancestral lines drawn around the African man which defined his loyalties, responsibilities, and even the duration of his smile. [129]

Prostitutes, he was to decide, were the best type of women you'd find among all black women, unless a man wanted to be trapped for life by a dead thing. A prostitute laughed. She established her own kind of equality with men. She picked up a wide, vicarious experience that made her charter in a lively way, and she was so used to the sex organs of men that she was inclined to regard him as a bit more than a sex organ. Not so the dead thing most men married. Someone told that dead thing that a man was only his sex organs and functioned as such. Someone told her that she was inferior in every way to a man, and she had been inferior for so long that even if a door opened somewhere, she could not wear this freedom gracefully. There was no balance between herself and a man. There was nothing but this quiet, contemptuous, know-all silence between herself, the man and his functioning organs. And everyone called this married life, even the filthy unwashed children, the filthy unwashed floors, and piles of unwashed dishes. [130-1]

I don't know these people but my search for a faith has taught me that life is a fire in which each burns until it is time to close the shop. [134-5]

People could do without religions and Gods who died for the sins of the world and thereby left men without any feeling of self-responsibility for the crimes they committed. ... It meant that a white man could forever go on slaughtering black men simply because Jesus Christ would save him from his sins. Africa could do without a religion a like that. [140]

He had grown up in an atmosphere where the most important thing in the world was the stronger whose shadow darkened the doorstep. People were the central part of the universe of Africa, and the world stood still because of this. [141]

Poor people are poor because they don't know how to get rich. [149]

Most men were waiting for the politicians to sort out their private agonies. [174]

Being an African man he ought to have known that nothing happened on the continent of Africa without all Africans getting to know of it. [176]

'Even the trees were dying, from roots upwards,' he said. 'Does everything die like this?'
'No,' she said. 'You may see no rivers on the ground but we keep the rivers inside us. That is why all good things and all good people are called rain. Sometimes we see the rain clouds gather even though not a cloud appears in the sky. It is all in our heart.' [177]

There was always something on this earth man was forced to love and worship by reason of its absence. People in cloudy, misty climates worshipped the sun, and people in semi-desert countries worshipped the rain. [177-8]

No words, however wise, could explain the awfulness of the death, not while the living were firmly attached to love, child-bearing, child-rearing, hunger, struggle, and the sunrise of tomorrow. Life had to flow all the time, for the living, like water in a stream. [178-9]

If you said no, no, no, and kept your claws in a people's heart, what else did you want but that they should all die? [185]

Was he crying now because, for the first time in his life, he was feeling what it must be like to face a tomorrow without any future? [186]

Sometimes a man's God was like Solomon and he decked himself up in gold and he built a house that was a hundred cubits in length and fifty cubits in breadth and thirty cubits in height. Gold candlesticks, cherubims, and pomegranates adorned his house, which had forty bathrooms. And there are bowls and snuffers and spoons and censers and door hinges of pure gold. And all that the followers of Solomon could do was to gape and marvel and chronicle these wonders in minute detail. Even Solomon's wisdom took secondary place to his material possessions and dazzling raiment. Then came a God who was greater than Solomon, but he walked around with no shoes, in rough cloth, wandering up and down the dusty footpath in the hot sun, with no bed on which to rest his head. And all that the followers of this God could do was to chronicle, in minute detail, the wonder and marvel of his wisdom. [194-5]

Therefore the Good God cast one last look at Makhaya, whom he intended revenging almightily for his silent threat to knock him down. He would so much entangle this stupid young man with marriage and babies and children that he would always have to think, not twice but several hundred times, before he came to knocking anyone down. [198]
Bessie Head would have been 76 years on July 6, 2013. This is to celebrate the author. This post and others are in celebration of the author who suffered much. 
Read the review here

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