‘Without a light, a person cannot sprout shadows’ and other proverbs in An Orchestra of Minorities


In the run up to #AfricaWrites2019 we will be discussing the art of proverbs, Igbo proverbs in particular. In Igbo society, as in many African societies, proverbs play a key role in cultural expression and figurative communication. Chigozie Obioma’s An Orchestra of Minorities explores the salience of Igbo proverbs within a tale of love, destiny and sacrifice. A modern twist on Homer’s Odyssey, Chigozie beautifully fuses Igbo literary style with contemporary African experiences.

We loved Chigozie’s novel so much that it inspired an entirely new campaign! As we countdown to our summer festival, we will be sharing some #WednesdayWisdom on our various social media platforms, where we hope to unpack some of the themes posed by Igbo proverbs. If, like us, you’re a fan of Chigozie’s work, then be sure to get tickets to our staged reading of The Fishermen and a conversation with Chigozie himself! Read more about our headline Chigozie Obioma in conversation and The Fishermen for more details and to secure those tickets!

How many African proverbs do you know? How many of them are Igbo proverbs?

Well, we’ve hand-picked 10 of our favourite Igbo proverbs from An Orchestra of Minorities – scroll through and let us know what you think!

  • No matter the grief, nothing can compel eyes to shed tears of blood.

  • Tomorrow is pregnant, and no one knows what it will birth.

  • The great fathers say that to get to the top of a hill, one must begin from it’s foot.

  • A smouldering fire can easily be mistaken for one that has been extinguished.

  • A child does not die because his mother’s breast is empty of milk.

  • The god who created the itch also gave man the finger to scratch it.

  • Whichever position the dancer takes, the flute will accompany him there.

  • Without a light, a person cannot sprout shadows.

Make sure you are up to date with our upcoming events as well as our #WednesdayWisdom discussions by following us on the following platforms:

More Igbo gems will be shared at our headline event with Chigozie and we can’t wait to catch them with you there!



Photo credit of Chigozie: Scott Soderberg.