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Home » The Danger of a Single Story by Chimamanda Adichie (Transcript)

The Danger of a Single Story by Chimamanda Adichie (Transcript)

Chimamanda Adichie

Full text of Nigerian Author Chimamanda Adichie’s talk: The Danger of a Single Story at TED conference.

Listen to the MP3 audio here:


I’m a storyteller. And I would like to tell you a few personal stories about what I like to call “the danger of the single story.”

I grew up on a university campus in eastern Nigeria. My mother says that I started reading at the age of two, although I think four is probably close to the truth. So I was an early reader, and what I read were British and American children’s books.

American and British books

I was also an early writer. And when I began to write, at about the age of seven, stories in pencil with crayon illustrations that my poor mother was obligated to read. I wrote exactly the kinds of stories I was reading: All my characters were white and blue-eyed. They played in the snow. They ate apples, and they talked a lot about the weather, how lovely it was that the sun had come out.

Now, this despite the fact that I lived in Nigeria, I had never been outside Nigeria. We didn’t have snow; we ate mangoes, and we never talked about the weather, because there was no need to.

My characters also drank a lot of ginger beer because the characters in the British books I read drank ginger beer. Never mind that I had no idea what ginger beer was. And for many years afterwards, I would have a desperate desire to taste ginger beer. But that is another story.

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