“When we realise there is never a single story about any place, we regain a kind of paradise” (C. Adichie, 2009). A ‘single story’ is the misinterpretation or the misinformation of a place, a set of people or a thing. Chimandad Adichie disclosed in a lecture I watched recently, that she had a single story of characters in books. All the characters in the books she read as a child had very set physical characteristics: blonde and blue eyed, and because of this she too as a child began writing with all her characters having the same physical characteristics. This was her single story, and this perception limited her imagination as a child to the possibilities of having characters who were physically different from the ones she had read about.
Children aren’t the only ones with single stories. Adichie also gave an account of a professor she had in college having a single story of Nigeria. He told her the characters in her book were “too much like me” and lacked African authenticity. Because of his single story of Africa, he could not imagine the characters in her story going living similar lives to him.
We all have a single story. Whether it is of a country, a continent, or even a set of people and the media helps build the foundations of these single stories. Single stories limit imagination and blocks possibilities. A world full of single stories is a dull world. What will you do to change the ending of your single story?
C. Adichie (2009). The Danger of a Single Story.