A Dangerous Single Story

“A Dangerous Single Story: Dispelling Stereotypes through African Literature.” Journal of Pan African Studies, vol. 12, no. 1, 2018, pp. 21-41. 


Abstract: Drawing on Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED Talk titled “The Danger of a Single Story,” this article explores how African women writers dispel stereotypes or dangerous single stories that have wrongly categorized the over one billion people that make up the continent of Africa. It argues that writers such as Adichie and Zimbabwean author NoViolet Bulawayo expose popular stereotypes about African people in their novels through controversial depictions and subject matters as a way to disrupt these stereotypes. It further contends the writers use stereotypes as a point of entry to relate the complex issues and experiences that people face within African societies. The article examines Bulawayo’s debut novel We Need New Names and Adichie’s third novel Americanah, highlighting ways the authors reclaim and honor the subjectivity of African people by disrupting simplistic ideas about extreme poverty in African nations and challenging beliefs concerning African immigrant experiences in the United States, respectively. Due to increased migration in our globalized world, it is becoming even more important for individuals to lay aside stereotypical ideas and these writers reveal how stories can play a part as well as their potential to inspire and humanize. Ultimately, African women writers engaging commonplace stereotypes is significant to the overall enterprise of self-liberation and self-definition. 

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