Quotes for Friday from Ferdinand Oyono's Houseboy

Unlike Bessie Head's A Question of Power, this book does not contain enough aphorisms that could be quoted. Or perhaps I failed to see them. Whatever be the case I would serve you with the few that I found interesting.

Life, he says, is like the chameleon, changing colour all the time.
Page 36

The elephant does not rot in a secret place
Sophie, Page 41

Ah, these whites, she burst out. The dog can die of hunger beside his master's meat. They don't bury the goat up to the horns. They bury him altogether.
Sophie, Page 44

They lamented 'the Martyr' as they called Father Gilbert because he died on African soil.
Page 53

The river does not go back to its spring.
Page 56

Truth lies beyond the mountains. You must travel to find it.
Page 57

If I talk it is because I have a mouth. If I see, it is because I have eyes. The eye goes farther and faster than the mouth, nothing stops it...
Page 60

Since when does the pot rub itself against the hammer?
Page 62

Is the white man's neighbour only other white men? Who can go on believing the stuff we are served up in the churches when things happen like I saw today...
Page 76

When will you grasp that for the whites, you are only alive to do their work and for no other reason. I am the cook. The white man does not see me except with his stomach.
The Cook, Page 87

It is the voice of wisdom ... outside his hole the mouse does not defy the cat.
Page 87

Our ancestors used to say you must escape when the water is still only up to the knees.
Page 100


  1. Outside the hole the mouse does not defy the cat- very true, although in my house the mouse could kick the cat's butt, LOL.

  2. @Marie perhaps the cats are tired of them. Lol. Or perhaps the mice have entered a peace accord with the cats. Lol.

  3. A woman is like a cob of maize which can be chewed by anyone who finds it.


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