Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED 2009 Speech on The Danger of A Single Story
Adichie emphasized that a single story about a person or country places a risk of cultural misunderstanding. Stereotypes (re: poverty-stricken Africa) at times overshadowed the historical and cultural impact of a person/country and it thus as Adichie says ‘robs’ people of how we are alike. “Stories can break the humanity of people” as Adichie put it.
Because of stereotypes made up of Western beliefs, Adichie argued that people do not recognized Nigerians who thrive like talk show host Funmi Iyanda despites a failed government system. Nigerians as Adichie declared are innovative are being pushing story telling ideas in the booming Nollywood industry. (Example: Genevieve Nnaji’s Oprah recognition.)
Adichie even fell into the trappings of the single story when she visited Mexico and she left feeling guilty due to assumption on immigration. Simply put, one single story told over and over quickly defines cultural authenticity and it becomes a grave danger to one when that single story is inaccurate. She also talked about how she was the go-to girl in her school classroom about all things Africa not knowing that Africa is a continent not a country.
Nonetheless the speech Adichie gave this past July at TED was quite profound and moving. Adichie raised many cultural points as she spoke of her experience growing up between the two worlds as a British-Nigerian female.
Kudos to Adichie for rebranding Nigeria and breaking down the stereotypes (re: District 9) has placed on the popular West African country. Her latest novel The Thing Around Your Neck is in stores now! Be on the lookout for her book t0 film adaptation based on the award-winning Half Of A Yellow Sun.
Adichie’s Book Lounge Chat on The Thing Around Your Neck: