The Danger of a Single Story

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Most of us entertain stereotyped notions about other people — whether based on their race or religion, sometimes simply based on the state or school we come from, often forgetting that all of us embody overlapping stories. The danger of looking only at a single story is “it robs people of their dignity, it makes our recognition of an equal humanity difficult,” she said, “it emphasizes how we are different, rather than how we are similar.” Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie often encountered this and admitted to also perceiving literature from a Western perspective. I am glad that I read her book, “Purple Hibiscus,” before we moved to Nigeria. It was definitely richer than the negative stories of wars, crime, and extreme poverty that came thru the news. It revealed to me how religious Nigerians are, so religious they are sometimes blind to cruelty and abuse. The Nigerians that I came to know during our four years there are nothing like the characters of other notable books like Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart” or South African Beverly Naidoo’s “The Other Side of Truth,” but that’s just the point.

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