The Danger of a Single Story
Last Friday,in my Gender, Culture, and Development in Africa class I came to know another female writer whose books I have yet to read. Her name is Chimamanda Adichie. In the video that we watched, she talked about how a single story about Africa (poor, starving, shoeless, homeless) was dangerous. In the same way that when she was growing up and started reading all British and American stories, she thought of writer her own stories where her characters were all white and blue-eyed. She said, 'If I had not grown up in Nigeria, and if all I knew about Africa were from popular images, I too would think that Africa was a place of beautiful landscapes, beautiful animals, and incomprehensible people, fighting senseless wars, dying of poverty and AIDS, unable to speak for themselves, and waiting to be saved, by a kind, white foreigner.'
Her words reverberated in me. How many times have I been asked where I learned my English from, as it seems 'very good,' or comments like 'we saw a documentary on Filipinos on BBC living in cemeteries' when I was in London, or suprised when I know their literature, ''You read Federico Garcia Lorca?" here in Spain.
I, too, had single story in my head before living in the UK or in Spain. But the more I get to know the people, the more I see things from different angles and the more I appreciate diversity. I have less judgment. I can only agree with Chimamanda when she said, 'The consequence of the single story is this: It robs people of dignity. It makes our recognition of our equal humanity difficult. It emphasizes how we are different rather than how we are similar.'
For WorldPulse friends who have not watched her video, let me share it to you: