The Story Is Chief Among His Fellows

“The sounding of the battle-drum is important; the fierce waging of the war itself is important; and the telling of the story afterwards – each is important in its own way… But if you ask me which of them takes the eagle-feather I will say boldly: the story… Now when I was younger, if you asked me the same question I would have replied without a pause: the battle. But age gives to a man some things with the right hand even as it takes away others with the left…

“So why do I say that the story is chief among his fellows? Because it is only the story that can continue beyond the war and the warrior. It is the story that outlives the sound of war-drums and the exploits of brave fighters. It is the story, not the others, that saves the cactus fence. The story is our escort; without it, we are blind. Does the blind man own his escort? No, neither do we the story; rather it is the story that owns us and directs us. It is the thing that makes us different from cattle; it is the mark on the face that sets one people apart from their neighbors.”

Chinua Achebe,
Anthills of the Savannah

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