The danger of a single story

In this fantastic talk from TED talks Nigerian author Chimamanda Adichie talks about the danger of having a single story, that hearing only one version of the story of a people or nation leads to ignorance. She says the truth is revealed by many tales.

She illustrates this with a story about coming to the United States, as a middle-class daughter of a professor and an administrator, and meeting her college roommate. Adichie says that her roommate's "default position toward me, as an African, was a kind of patronizing, well-meaning, pity. My roommate had a single story of Africa. A single story of catastrophe."

Adichie also tells how growing up in Nigeria reading only American and English children's books made her deaf to her authentic voice. As a child, she wrote about such things as blue-eyed white children eating apples, thinking brown skin and mangos had no place in literature. That changed as she discovered African writers, particularly the Nigerian Chinua Achebe.

The continued lack of local language, context specific children’s books across Africa but also across other parts of the developing world is a serious impediment to literacy but also to children knowing the truth about themselves, their cultures and the place that they can occupy in the world.