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Bessie Head

  • So sudden and abrupt was the sunrise that the birds had to pretend they had been awake all the time.

  • The philosophy of love and peace strangely overlooked who was in possession of the guns. There had been love and peace for some time on the continent of Africa because for all this time black men had been captivated by the doctrines of Christianity. It took them centuries to realize its contradictions. ... perhaps there was no greater crime as yet than all the lies Western civilization had told in the name of Jesus Christ.

  • It was said of Moleka that he had taken his heart out of his body and hidden it in some secret place while he made love to all the women in the village. Dikeledi was the only woman who knew that. The quarrels were about where he had hidden his heart.

    • Bessie Head,
    • Maru
    • ()
  • How universal was the language of oppression! They had said of the Masarwa what every white man had said of every black man: 'They can't think for themselves. They don't know anything.'

    • Bessie Head,
    • Maru
    • ()
  • Love is mutually feeding each other, not one living on another like a ghoul.

  • I might really have gone round the bend. I mean people who get visions and see a gigantic light descend on them from the sky can't be all there but if so I feel mighty happy. If one is happy and cracked it's much better than being unhappy and sane.

    • Bessie Head,
    • 1966, in Randolph Vigne, ed., A Gesture of Belonging: Letters From Bessie Head 1965-1979 ()
  • People with really weak characters cause an immense amount of suffering in the world. They destroy whole civilisations.

    • Bessie Head,
    • 1968, in Randolph Vigne, ed., A Gesture of Belonging: Letters From Bessie Head 1965-1979 ()
  • I have often noticed that the need for cash and the production of a masterpiece just don't coincide with me. Money will hit me at a big off-period and genius will hit me in starvation, that is, I often get the money when I don't think I deserve it and have been lolling around for days and days thinking the most abysmal thoughts.

    • Bessie Head,
    • 1970, in Randolph Vigne, ed., A Gesture of Belonging: Letters From Bessie Head 1965-1979 ()
  • There is only one human nobility left in me. I am not afraid to die.

    • Bessie Head,
    • 1971, in Randolph Vigne, ed., A Gesture of Belonging: Letters From Bessie Head 1965-1979 ()
  • Most people live uncomplicated lives. They have work and quietly rear their children. There is an order and sanity about them that keeps the world going. There is an outer disorder and insanity about my life which makes me a victim. One of the disorders is that they won't give us citizenship here ...

    • Bessie Head,
    • 1973, in Randolph Vigne, ed., A Gesture of Belonging: Letters From Bessie Head 1965-1979 ()
  • I write because I have authority from life to do so.

    • Bessie Head,
    • in Charles R. Larson, ed., Under African Skies ()
  • I am building a stairway to the stars. I have the authority to take the whole of mankind up there with me. That is why I write.

    • Bessie Head,
    • in Charles R. Larson, ed., Under African Skies ()

Bessie Head, South African-born Botswana writer

(1937 - 1986)