African Voices Challenge the ‘Single Story’


Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 13:20 PM EDT, 15 January 2012

The Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie speaks about the traditions of a single story framed by prejudice, stereotypes, and misinformation. The author of “Half of a Yellow Sun” (2006), she has several other notable books, short stories, plays and poem anthologies under her belt.

Raised in a middle class home with domestic help, Chimamanda related how as a child she viewed the help as being "poor" and equated that with a plethora of negative assumptions. It was only after she came to American and was subjected to "flat" perceptions of Africa and Africans, that she was able to recognize the ubiquity of preconceived notions.

Chimamanda eloquently addresses the hard topics of racism and classism through the nuanced language and concept of the “single story.” At every juncture she rebukes herself before taking the public to task, yet manages to keep the audience engaged as she chastens them.  Her words and thoughts on this issue are far more powerful than any opinion written about her, thus, I encourage you to listen to the author speak in the video below.

To learn more about Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie check out the bibliography and links below.   Watch her speak on Ted TV here.