Culture & Curious Habits / Indonesia / Social Commentary

The danger of a single story

wqw-adichie

 

Sharing this TED Talk by Chimamanda Adichie because I think a lot of us could use maintaining our sanity here in Indonesia. Adichie has somewhat a different context than us here, but I think the value of her talk lies in the importance to not be ignorant on representation and stereotyping of human being, because in the end, each and everyone has their story of their life (whether we like/ believe it or not) and most often worth our time to listen.

It is impossible to talk about the single story without talking about power. There is a word, an Igbo word, that I think about whenever I think about the power structures of the world,and it is “nkali.” It’s a noun that loosely translates to “to be greater than another.” Like our economic and political worlds, stories too are defined by the principle of nkali: How they are told, who tells them, when they’re 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 Palestinian poet Mourid Barghouti writes that if you want to dispossess a people, the simplest way to do it is to tell their story and to start with, “secondly.” Start the story with the arrows of the Native Americans, and not with the arrival of the British, and you have an entirely different story. Start the story with the failure of the African state, and not with the colonial creation of the African state, and you have an entirely different story.

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