Discussion on cultural ignorance


Adichie argues that a single story leads to cultural ignorance because it limits the understanding and connection between people. The single story refers to a defining narrative that influences the way people view events, places, and communities: “I’ve always felt that 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” (ll. 80-81). Therefore, because of the single story, people become ignorant towards other cultures and instead view others based on a handful of traits which do not fully express the extent of their identity, diversity, and culture.

Cultural ignorance and colonialism

Adichie talks about the link between power and culture. She seems to suggest that white colonisers in Africa promoted a negative image of African countries and its citizens to make them powerless: “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.” (ll. 73-75). Adichie also remarks that, during that time, cultural ignorance was promoted through Western literature and the incorrect and offensive stereotypes it presented. She gives the example of Rudyard Kipling, an English writer who describes native people as “half devil, half child” (l. 64). Adichie also mentions the false accounts written by Western travellers like John Lok, who describe African people in a dehumanising way: “After referring to the black Africans as “beasts who have no houses,” he writes, ‘They are also people without heads, having their mouths and eyes in their breasts’” (ll. 59-60).

Africans' lack of literary representation

Adichie also notes that African literature was scarce after the end of colonial rule. In this way, she also points to the government’s failure to correct the unbalanced perspective promoted...

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