Chimamanda Adichie: The danger of a single story
Today I ran across an excellent TED talk by the Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Adichie, “The Danger of a Single Story.” It’s well worth listening to.
I’d dispute her idea that our perceptions of Africa — of a place filled with starving, helpless people, ever the victims of war and famine, ever in need of Western assistance — comes from literature. Few of us read the old colonial literature of Africa. My neighbour who supervises road crews doesn’t. My other neighbour, the electrician, doesn’t. We get these ideas from the media: from television, newspapers, the magical Internet.
We love the reductive simplicity of a single story. Even those of us who think we’re enlightened love to indulge in a single story. And of course, we face the danger of allowing those simple, reductive ideas to come out in the stories we write.