Topic and structure

Topic overview

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED talk focuses on the influence stories had on changing her perception about herself and the world around her. As a child, she was influenced by reading British and American literature but was unable to identify with the stories and characters presented there. However, after discovering African literature, she started to write about things that are familiar to her.

Adichie talks about how a single story can make people feel disconnected from others. As a child, Adichie’s understanding of a poor family was limited due to her preconceived ideas about poverty. She was later surprised to discover that the family were creative and hardworking. Similarly, when Adichie moved to America, she discovered that her roommate had preconceived ideas about African culture in part due to the stories she has heard.

Also, after she travelled to America, Adichie was surprised when people saw her as African, as she did not assign importance to her racial identity until then. She discovered that many Americans view Africa as a single country and do not consider its diversity or treat its inhabitants as individuals.

Adichie warns that hearing only one version of a story can change the way people interpret events. Stories can be used to dehumanise others but also to empower them. Therefore, she gives examples of numerous people whose achievements should change people’s negative perception about African culture. She also encourages people to start writing their own stories.


Here we analyse the structure of the speech.


The title of the TED talk “The danger of a single story” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie reflects on the fact that stories can be used to mislead and dehumanise people. In her speech, Adichie states that “The consequence of the 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” (ll. 81-83). Stories change the way in which people think and feel about certain topics or events.

In the case of African culture, single-narrative stories (usually created by non-Africans) lead foreigners to develop a false image of Africa as a single country with beautiful flora and fauna but burdened by poverty and civil unrest. These stories also present African people as ...

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