Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Danger of a Single Story [your saturday night video]

For those of you who, like me, on a Saturday night, may be sticking to themselves and the privacy of their bedrooms and/or may be stuck to a study table doing work and/or may be living in the spectral company of the virtual web instead of a more real one, here is a video that you may want to spend 20 minutes on during your coffee break. [Dare I say that it's the equivalent of an intellec(tex)tual quickie?]

It's the Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie speaking about "The Danger of a Single Story." Her talk is very serious, yet playful, but above all it's nuanced and subtle and she provides a whole range of ways of engaging with 'a single story' in different contexts and settings without taking a preach-like tone, which is something that I admire. I've been thinking about it more and more these days: How does a brown me who does post-colonial work, being from an island midway between (post-)colonial Africa and (post-)colonial South-Asia speak of colonialism in its various forms-- old and new, small and big-- without falling into a blanketing binary? Without sounding self-righteous? Without sounding preachy? Or maybe without even sounding angry? [To that, add my idiosyncracies and quirks which include being an opinionated, almost arrogant kid with strong opinions that I like spitting out etc.]

What I like about Chinmamanda Adichie's talk, amongst others, is that she does not speak to a (white) audience in order to trigger some form of white-guilt in her listeners (call it colonial guilt, call it gender guilt, call it whatever you want.) Her tone and anecdotes are much more shaded and elegant. I think she really inspired me. So you can also watch the video by clicking here.