Assignment 5B – The Danger of a Single Story
Everything is a matter of perspective. Even though the quote is a cliché and kind of an empty phrase it describes how people understand things. An old indian story illustrates how ten blind men were commissioned to touch different parts of an elephant.
Based on each of their limited experiences, the men got ten distinct perceptions of what an elephant is.
The intention of the old Indian story is to show that we do not always see and appreciate things as they are. We prefer, instead, to see things as we are based on our own one-sided experience.
The theme is illuminated by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in her speech “The Danger of a Single Story” (2009).
Adichie is a Nigerian writer. She moved to America after spending her childhood in Nigeria.
The fact that Adichie is an African living in America is essential in this context because she is aware of how it is to be African and how it is to be American. She knows the African perception of America and she is aware of the American perception of Africa.
It is important for Adichie to show that she is a foreigner because she claims that there are some prejudices about being African: “I still get quite irritable when Africa is referred to as a country” (L 48 - 49).
Adichie describes how people tend to look at Africans in a very stereotypical way: “Africa was a place of beautiful landscapes, beautiful animals, and incomprehensible people, fighting senseless wars, dying of poverty and AIDS” (L 54 - 55).
According to Adichie this conception of Africa is twisted and narrow minded. “My roommate had a single story of Africa: a single story of catastrophe.” (L 43). But the prejudices go both ways.