Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a novelist who is from Nigeria. She has written numerous books and short stories. Adichie held a TED talk in 2014, on how words on a piece of paper can completely change a persons perspective on anything. People will be able anything that they read, and she discusses her experiences with this.
Cultural imperialism instances in the childhood of Chimachanda were the fact that all of her books were British and American books, so all of her characters were always white, they always ate apples, and they always played in the snow, all things that never happened where Chimachanda lived. Discovering African writers helped Chimamanda change her perception of the world and made her realize that all books did not have to be foreigners and people like her could exist in stories.
Adichie’s house boy Fide had a very poor family. Chimachanda’s mother would send rices, yams, and old clothes to his family. They went to visit Fide’s family in the village one day, and Fide’s mother showed Chimachanda a basket that his brother had made. Chimachanda could not believe that someone poor like that was actually capable of making something. Always hearing about how poor Fide’s family was made Chimachanda only able to perceive them as poor and nothing else.
Chimamanda’s american roommate was shocked by her. She asked her where she had learned to speak English so well and the roommate was confused when told her that Nigeria happened to have English as its official language. She asked if she could listen to Chimamanda’s “tribal music.” She assumed Chimamanda did not know how to use a stove. Her roommate had felt sorry for her before she even saw Chimamanda. The single story of Africa comes from Western Literature. The professor argued that the characters were not authentically African because he said the characters were too much like him, and educated and middle class man. The characters drove cars and were not starving, therefore they were not “authentically African.”
A single story is created by a group of people by showing people as one thing, as only one thing, over and over again, and that is what they become. Stories are defined by the principle of Nkali (to be greater than another): How they are told, who tells them, when they are told, how many stories are told, are really dependent on power. Power is the ability not just to tell the story of another person, but to make it the definitive story of that person. The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.
The consequence of the single story is this: It robs people of dignity. It makes our recognition of our equal humanity difficult. It emphasizes how we are different rather than how we are similar.