The Danger of a Single Story

•October 7, 2009 • Leave a Comment

This summer, I had the immense honor of meeting Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (who’s article for the Guardian is featured in my last post).  She talked a lot about her journey toward writing and becoming a writer: from writing about people with blonde hair and blue eyes playing in the snow and eating mangos to writing about about Nigerians playing in the sand and eating mangoes. All-in-all, it was a great hour+ spent.

When I first read her book, “Purple Hibiscus,” I fell in love. Here was a story about Nigeria and Nigerians that was cliche, that didn’t proliferate the horrible Western ideals of Africans. It was modern, unlike the books written by Chinua Achebe and Wole Soyinka (both who I also admire) which are rooted more in historical Nigeria. Her other books, “Half of a Yellow Sun,” and the most recent, “The Thing Around Your Neck,” are equally as great.

In the clip below (which is from one of the TED talks), Adichie repeats a lot of the things she mentioned in the talk when I heard her speak. Her point is this: without a variety of stories, with only a single type of story, the world is deprived of the truth. The single story of Africa must be changed — it’s stuck in Africans as poor, backwards; Africa as a place of negatives. Newer African authors, like Chimamanda Adichie, are becoming more prominent in the Western world and are changing this single story.

And I’m thankful for that.

The clip is engaging, funny, and informative. But most especially, for me as an aspiring writing, it’s eye-opening.

It’s about 19 mins long, so if you don’t have time to listen to it all, here’s some “soundbites”:

“Show a people as one thing, as only one thing, over and over again, and that is what they become. … Power is the ability not just to tell the story of another person, but to make it the definitive story of that person. … Start the story with the failure of the African states and not with the colonial creation of the African states, and you have an entirely different story. … 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 the only story.  … But there are other stories that are not about catastrophe, and it’s very important, it is justas important to talk about them. I’ve always felt that it’s impossible to engage properly with a place or person without engaging with all the stories of that place or that person. The consequence of the single story is this: it robs people of dignity… it emphasizes how we are different, rather than how we are similar. … Stories matter. Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign, but stories can also be used to empower and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of people, but stories can also repair that broken dignity. … When we reject the single story, when we realize that there is never a single story about any place, we regain a kind of paradise.”

Chimamada Ngozi Adichie, quoted from a TED Talk
(filmed July 2009, posted October 2009)

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on 'District 9' and the relationship between Nigerians and South Africans

•October 6, 2009 • Leave a Comment

This was written by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in the Guardian recently:

South Africans and Nigerians (and indeed other African immigrant groups) have simply not had the time or the neutral space to grow an organic understanding of each other. The Nigerians arrive with their different, more distant colonial experience, with their mercantile spirit, with none of the conditioning of the South African menial wage-earning experience and – yes – with that swagger. They arrive in a vulnerable country where the legacy of institutional exclusion still thrives. They create spaces for themselves in whatever way they can and, of course, they arouse resentment.

You should read the whole article, which stems from the recent controversy over the sci-fi movie District 9, which portrays Nigerians as the ultimate bad guys. Nigerian officials have asked for Sony to offer an apology for the film and take out all references of Nigeria, saying it promotes negative stereotypes of the country and its people.

For those of you in New York City …

•April 7, 2009 • Leave a Comment

If I haven’t shared the Solving Africa blog/website, forgive me. I’ll do so now

One Wednesday, there will be an exhibit hosted at the NYU School of Journalism. If you’re in the area, it’s something you should definitely check out. 

The evening will start with a reading, and then attendants are free to wander around looking at photographs and videos of Junior Kanu’s trip across Africa so far.  

You can expect to:

1.watch several fun snippets of my interviews with young people around the continent.
2.see hilarious moments of cross-cultural engagement caught on tape.
3.look at and purchase some of the best photos from the trip.
4.listen to some writing that I’ve completed toward the book.
5.join me in raising the remaining $2082 needed to make it to Senegal, Ghana and Nigeria.

 

Here are the details:
The Solving Africa Exhibit 
Wednesday, April 8, 6PM – 8PM
20 Cooper Square, 7th Floor
Dept. of Journalism, New York University

Show up at any time, as you are free to come and go as you please. The event coordinators do request that people try and RSVP on Facebook or by email to junior.kanu@gmail.com

More on the Pope, Africa and AIDS

•March 22, 2009 • 1 Comment

From TRINIDADANDTOBAGONEWS.COM – The Catholic Church and the Underdevelopment of Africa.

Condoms and Africa

•March 19, 2009 • 1 Comment

So … the Pope tells Africa condoms are wrong.

2009: 5 African Tech Firms To Watch

•March 5, 2009 • Leave a Comment

From Africa Business Wire, the list includes:

Pamoja Media (www.pamojamedia.com) – targeting both the African Diaspora and the continent, this company is a pioneer in online marketing. Africans are a diverse group of people, but Pamoja seems to have figured out a way to target us all successfuly. 

 

Frontline SMS (www.frontlinesms.com) – who doesn’t like to text message? We can expect this platform of communication and information dissemination to only get bigger. Africans now have an efficient communication tool, especially when it comes to developing countries. 

 

Orange (www.orange.fr) – Probably one of the largest investors in Africa right now. And we can only hope that they’ll soon see a return on this investment.  We’ll have to see what they do with it. 

 

AfriGator (www.afrigator.com) – a social media aggregator and blog directory with a steady 25% month to month growth … why shouldn’t we be watching this South African company? 

 

Ushahidi (www.ushahidi.com) – meaning “Testimony” in Kiswahili (Swahili), this company became an important tool during the election violence in Kenya over the last year.  It’s a free and open source platform that the entire African continent can put to use, especially in a crisis response.

Predicting Obama's Africa Policies

•March 5, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Now that he’s in office, what will Obama’s Africa Policy really be like? Here’s a prediction.