Quotes for Friday from Bessie Head's A Question of Power

I have been reading this book for a week now but have still not reached half way through it. And it's just over 200 pages. I have been busy with work, reports, and organising a trip for some visitors that my reading has slumped to a rate of a page per day. How sad! Fortunately, the few pages I have read of Bessie Head's most popular novel, A Question of Power, has a lot of quotable passages and sentences to fill a Friday void. Consequently, if the remaining pages is a similitude of the pages read, I would have a part two of this.

A man might laugh at intense suffering only if the evil which tortured him became irrelevant and if obsessive love, which was also one of his evils, became irrelevant too.
Page 11

Love is two people mutually feeding each other, not one living on the soul of the other, like a ghoul.
Sello, Page 13

What did they gain, the power people, while they lived off other people's souls like Vultures? Did they seem to themselves to be most supreme, most God-like, most wonderful, most cherished?
Page 19

You know, men don't really discuss deep metaphysical profundities with women. Oh, they talk about love and things like that, but their deepest feelings they reserve for other men.
Tom (Peace Corps Volunteer), Page 24

It is when you cry, in the blackest hour of despair, that you stumble on a source of goodness. There were a few of us who cried like that. Then we said: "Send us perfection." They sent you. The we asked; "What is perfection?" And they said: "Love".
David, Page 34

There's always someone holding the ball. ... If you look over your shoulder you will find people with hearts more generous than yours.
David, Page 34/35

There are so many terrible lessons you have to learn this time; that the title God, in its absolute all-powerful form, is a disaster to its holder, the all-seeing eye is the greatest temptation. It turns a man into a wild debaucher, a maddened and wilful persecutor of his fellow men.
Page 36/37

People who have suffered from the wanton cruelty of others prefer the truth at all times, no matter what it might cost them.
Page 38

How can a man be a man when he is called boy? I can barely retain my own manhood. I was walking down the road the other day with my girl, and the Boer policeman said to me: "Hey, boy, where's your pass?" Am I a man to my girl or a boy? Another man addresses me as boy. How do you think I feel?
Page 45

How could someone run away from their own mind?
Page 46

Journeys into the soul are not for women with children, not all that dark heaving turmoil. They are for men, and the toughest of them took off into solitude of the forests and fought out their battles with hell in deep seclusion. No wonder they hid from view. The inner life is ugly.
Elizabeth, Page 50

And love was like a girl walking down a road on staggering legs with the wind blowing through her hair. And love was like a girl with wonder in her eyes. And love was like a girl with a flaming heart and impulsive arms. And love was so many things, so many variations on one theme: humility and equality - for when those men said: 'Is it possible? Could you love me?', thrones and kingdoms were of no account against the power of love.
Page 54

They pray, so falsely: from the heart of God let love enter the hearts of men, thus removing the things of the soul to some impossibly unseen, mystical heaven. Oh no, a heaven had been planned directly around the hearts of men and as, bit by bit, its plan unfolded they called it so many names: democracy, freedom of thought, social consciousness, protest, human rights, exploration, moral orders, principles and a thousand and one additions for the continual expansion and evolution of the human soul.
Page 54

And out of the shifting patterns of tenderness and cooperation before her gaze she formulated he own broad definition of God: God is the totality of all great souls and their achievements; the achievements are not that of one single, individual soul, but of many souls who all worked to make up the soul of God, and this might be called God, or the Gods.
Page 54

There they said the black man was naturally dull, stupid, inferior, but they made sure to deprive him of the type of education which developed personality, intellect, skill.
Page 57

Enjoy these and look out for the review of the novel, perhaps, next week. Again, if I gather enough quotable passages and sentences, I would bring it to you on another Friday.
Read the part two here.


  1. True - these things happens to me too - that - the pressures of work could sometimes destruct your reading plans. I see nice quotes and passages here... All best in completing this book.

  2. Hope to capitalise on tomorrow's Saturday-ness.

  3. Thanks for sharing. I like the quote from page 57.

  4. Ah, Bessie Head. What a treat! Enjoy. I do hope that you do find the time to squeeze in more reading. Sometimes it's so hard. Life is Ghana is so demanding and challenging at times.

  5. Sounds like you're pretty busy! I hope you get some good reading time in soon.
    I love the quote about love being about two people feeding each other. So true. Leave the ghoulishness to zombies, LOL.

  6. thanks GHS... she's got some great quotes

  7. @Kinna, say that again! It's so hard at times. There is nothing 'small'. Everything consumes your time.

  8. @Marie, thanks. Very I hope to end this book this week and squeeze in good reading time.

  9. I read A Question of Power for a Utopian Literature Class and wanted to refresh my memory of her quotes, thanks!


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