The danger of a single story is a speech made by a native Nigerian, Adichie who studied and lived in the US. She presents the risks that are likely to occur when people use just one story in describing a person, a situation or group of individuals. The speech The Danger of a Single Story is compelling because Adichie relates with readers by conveying her personal experiences with great detail, as well as displaying common misconceptions one may have with only one viewpoint. Additionally, Adichie strives to be objective by providing illustrations of misconceptions from all circles of life as the American, Nigerians, herself, the learned and poor as well which eventually provides a balance. She uses all three appeals to convey her message to her listeners which makes the presentation remarkable.
Adichie primary audience is the elite, the social circles and every person is a generic sense including herself. The major problem that her speech presents is how people are biased and subjective in making an analysis of people, things, and situations based on a single source of information that leads to a biased conclusion. As such, she argues out, giving solid examples from her life in Nigeria, US, and Mexico on how this problem thrived among most people. As such, she claims it is dangerous to consider a matter just based on a single story. She provides various evidence throughout her speech to support her claims.
She uses logos to appeal to the international group she is speaking to by offering illustrations of how Americans view Africans as inferior beings and not as individuals with equal rights and opportunities. She states that this era began by the works of respected explorers like John Lock and such information has been propagated extensively. She explains how after John Locks voyage to West Africa in 1561 became a key contributor to American literature. John Lock calls Black Americans as beasts with no houses with their head on the breasts. This literature becomes the starting point of considering Africa as a place of negativity. Thus, such image is what is carried forward by Americans. Additionally, a poet by the name Kipling considered Africans as half child half devil. Adichies usage of such people helps the audience get valid proof of her claims and by reason accept his speech as credible. She uses quotes from people like Chinua Achebe to offer credibility in whatever she is saying. For instance, Chinua stated that storytelling should provide balance and objectivity.
The speaker uses herself first as a victim of the danger of a single story and how that affected her. She uses her personal experiences which enable her to connect with the audience (Gioa, 2007). Adichie gives examples of how she was affected by the single story at a young age by reading books with British characters and thus concluded that all books should be westernized. However, later she came across books by African writers like Chinua Achebe which enriched her vocabulary by providing a balanced view of considering literature. By reading books from African writers, she was able to write stories about everyday things in Nigeria that she would relate to as compared to imaginary things like snow and ginger beer which had no idea about. Moreover, she explains well how her American roommate presented the general view of Africa. In fact, the pitiful face she showed Adichie as she was African who had many problems with the general notion. The Americans had only one story of Africa consisting of underdevelopment, people lavished in poverty and unable to read and write. Moreover, the westerners had only read a glimpse of the story about Africa, and thus their conclusions were biased. In fact, Adichie explains the notion that Africa is a country and not a continent as when the lecturer mentioned Africans, each person turned to her. It was frustrating to her as she had no clue of what was happening in some parts of Africa like Namibia.
The speech is presented remarkably as Adichie uses great detail, setting, and emotion through the speech. In using emotions, she builds trust with her audience allowing a connection as suggested by Maxwell and Dickman, (2007). In describing the family of Fide, the house boy they had when she was a young girl, she varies her tone, and her body language communicates the pity. Additionally, she expresses emotions when she presents the rural set up of Fides family who though poor were hardworking and could weave beautiful baskets. Such details are of the essence in giving the speech as they provide a mental picture of that village family. Emotions and feelings enable Adichie to connect well with the audience and sustain the interest of the public. Adichie offers a detailed explanation of her shock when the professor told her that her novel lacked African authenticity something she even did not know. In explaining the scenario where the professor thought that it was impossible to have professors in Africa and middle-class men who were like him. Adichie presents the dangers of having the same story though in different facets. In a way, she lets the story explain itself without having to repeat the same thing all the time, allowing the audience to interact with the content throughout the speech making.
Adichie concludes her speech in a fair manner. She explains how by reading the same story, stereotypes are inevitable and issues like racism become prevalent. In fact, she explains that stereotypes are not always untruthful, but they are incomplete omitting other facets of the story. Through reading or getting knowledge of a particular culture over and over, one forms a biased judgment and conclusion of that culture. For instance, she states how her view of the Mexicans was biased because of what she had read and heard about Media. She believed that they were always crossing borders among other vices. However, her visit to Mexico gave her a complete spectrum of the Mexicans which changed her perception. As she concludes, she states that one story is neither credible nor reliable in providing a balanced judgment about a culture. She indicates the great things that happen in Africa like resilient people regardless of government shortcomings. For example, the Nollywood movies and blended Nigeria music which stands out despite the technical challenges.
In conclusion, Adichies speech is remarkable as it provides great details of the settings where the events in the story occurred. Adichie is able to connect with the audience by providing her personal stories throughout the speech. She does not only present others as victims of concluding using a single story but also includes herself. She illustrates the dangers of judging people based on a single facet using Africans and Americans and formal set ups as well. In her conclusion, she demonstrates how the dangers of single stories can be far reaching. She also provides the flipside of it by showing the benefits that accrue when people strive to have the complete story.
Adichie, C. (2009). The danger of a single story. TED Ideas worth spreading.
Gioia, D. (2007). Literature: an introduction to fiction, poetry. And drama. New York: Pearson Longman.
Maxwell, R., & Dickman, R. (2007). The elements of persuasion: use storytelling to pitch better, sell faster & win more business. Collins.
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