Memorable Qoutes from Ola Rotimi’s “The Gods are not to Blame”


Ola Rotimi’s The Gods are not to Blame tells the intriguing story of Odewale who is destined from birth to kill his father and marry his mother.

The play is replete with many wise sayings and Yoruba proverbs beautifully rendered in English. Some of these quotes address issues of social relevance while some are motivating. I have compiled a handful of them in this blog post. Enjoy!

Quotes from “The Gods are not to Blame”

The struggles of a man begin at birth.


The future is not happy, but to resign oneself to it is to be crippled fast.

‘Get up, get up,’ I said to them; ‘not to do something is to be crippled fast. Up, up, all of you; to lie down resigned to fate is madness. Up, up, struggle: the world is struggle.

“He who pelts another with pebbles asks for rocks in return.”

“Joy has a slender body that breaks too soon.”

“When the head of a household dies, the house becomes an empty shell.”

“When chameleon brings forth a child, is not that child expected to dance?”

“When rain falls on the leopard, does it wash off its spots? Has the richness of kingly life washed off the love of our king for his people?”

How long must feverish birds tremble in silence before their keeper?

Now, you have all come here, sprawling, vomiting, rubbing tears on one another, begging me to do my duty, and help you. But what about yourselves? What have you done to help yourselves?

‘The land is bad’, you all cry, ‘we suffer much, we die,’ you moan. Yet each one of you lies down in his own small hut and does nothing. Now tired of doing nothing, you have all come like lobsters, carrying your large heads of complaints to my door-step. Well, let me tell you, brothers and sisters, the ruin of a land and its peoples begins in their homes. If you, in your own small huts are so helpless, so crippled that you now come to me, a single man, expecting magic, then, let me tell you that we shall soon all die, hand in hand, in one big grave; hand in hand, I say, smiling at each other’s eyeballs, and smelling the rot of gross, corrupt bodies. If you need help, search for it first among yourselves.

“The moon moves slowly but by daybreak, it crosses the sky”

By trying often, the monkey learns to jump from tree to tree without falling. Keep on trying.

“The horns cannot be too heavy for the head of the cow that must bear them.”

“Until the rotten tooth is pulled out, the mouth must chew with caution.”

“When trees fall on trees, the topmost must be removed.”

“When the frog in front falls in a pit, others behind take caution.”

“When crocodiles eat their own eggs, what will they not do to the flesh of a frog?”

The world is bad. One does not know whom to trust. The good ruler who stands for the people becomes a victim too soon. And bad rulers, like bad sauce, stay longer! A world that knows not what it wants. A dizzy world, this.

A chicken eats corn, drinks water, swallows pebbles, yet she complains of having no teeth. If she had teeth, would she eat gold? Let her ask the cow who has teeth yet eat grass.

“The hyena flirts with the hen, the hen is happy, not knowing that her death has come.”

“Two rams cannot drink from the same bucket at the same time. They will lock horns.”

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