Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Telling a Complete story

A couple of days ago, I received an email from my OWYP colleague and friend, Jeff, which simply read: Do you know this lady? Nigerian writer. Good speech. It also had a link to TED.com’s talk platform. I clicked on the link and was whizzed off to “The Dangers of a Single Story” a speech made by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

We all know the renowned author of Purple Hibiscus to be a good storyteller, except this time she was not telling us an imaginary tale. Drawing from her childhood memories and experience in Mexico, Adichie spoke on how a single story can ruin our world. She warned that a single story “...Show a people as one thing, as only one thing, over and over again and that is what they become”. And most times, this single story always portrays the people through a negative perception.

“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…it is impossible to engage properly with a place or a person without engaging with all of the stories of that place and that person”. With a dose of charisma and eloquence, she argued how impressionable and vulnerable we are in the face of a single story. “The consequence of a 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”

“Stories matter…stories have been used to disposes and to malign. But stories can also be use to empower and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people but stories can also repair that broken dignity… when we reject the single story, we regain a kind of paradise” Thus, we all can tell our stories right. How you start your story will determine how you’ll tell the story.

Like Chimamanda, I recently had a unique experience to tell our story during the recently co-sponsored Georgetown Africa Interest Network (GAIN) discussion with Georgetown University’s Center for Social Impact Communication (CSIC) themed “Communicating Africa: Transcending borders with digital media.” Participating as one of the Panelists alongside Howard French, senior writer for the New York Times, Associate Professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and the author of “A Continent for the Taking: The Tragedy and Hope of Africa”; Mr. Rohit Bhargava of 360 Digital Influence team at Ogilvy and author of “Personality Not Included”; and J.P. Singh, Associate Professor of Communication, Culture and Technology at Georgetown University, and author of “Negotiation and the Global Information Economy” exposed me to the raw yearning out there for this generation to take up the responsibility and tell a complete story! Read details on:
and Digital Media:

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