Chimamanda Adichie is a renowned African novelist. In TED talk, she extensively addresses the dangers of hearing a single story about a person or a country. She argues that such a phenomenon exposes people to the risk of developing wrong impressions about a subject. She begins the talk by narrating how she was influenced by foreign literature during her childhood days. She argues that foreign books stirred her imagination and opened up a new world.
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All the books she read had foreign characters, and Adichie came to believe that all novels were supposed to feature foreign characters. However, this perception changed when she discovered African books. Works from novelists such as Chinua Achebe and Camara Laye helped Adichie make significant mental leaps and adjustments with regard to her perception of literature. Her discovery of African writers and books annihilated the risk of developing misconceptions about the content of a good book. She gives numerous examples of how Africa is portrayed in Western literature by citing the works of John Locke and Rudyard Kipling.
Despite their negativity, Western writers introduced a tradition of talking about Africa in their countries. The portrayal of Africa as negative, dark, backward, and savage in literature can become a source of wrong information among readers. Adichie encountered a misunderstanding from her roommate who pitied her and misjudged her origin based on a single story of catastrophe. She was a victim of the single story’s phenomenon because she thought of Mexicans as immigrants who always struggled to cross the border into the US. However, her perspective changed when she visited Guadalajara, Mexico.
The single story creates stereotypes that lead to misconceptions about people and countries. It is important to have multiple stories about people and countries in order to understand them better and avoid judging them based on a single perspective.
Adichie, C. N. (2009). The danger of a single story. Web.