A Balanced Story: The Duplicity of the African Story

Sandra Appiah April 02, 2011

 A Balanced Story: The Duplicity of the African StoryChimamanda Adichie, a Nigerian writer whose first two novels won literary awards, said it best in her reflection about Nkali {Greater than}; “Power is the ability not just to tell the story of one person but to make it the definitive story about that person.” There’s a lot of power in understanding the other side of every position and using it for good. You only have to look to Chinua Achebe, author of “Things Fall Apart,” or Chimamanda Adichie, to understand how they clearly leverage the power of literature from all backgrounds to better understand the position of our beloved continent of Africa.

Each of us views the world through our own specially crafted lenses, chiseled by our respective cultures that have taught us to live as abiding citizens. From the food we eat, the way we dress, and our religions down to our metaphysical thoughts about what life is and why we live it – we view the world from the windowsill of our own perspectives. In a game of world association, your lenses would conjure answers to the following based on your own socialization. Go ahead and try it "Immigrant"…"black"…"Africa". Your mind wavers and is unsteady over certain thoughts about various races and people, and at this point the question becomes, "can the same thing be said about me?" As a matter of fact, we can conclude, that’s always the case in the world we live in. Your life, its experiences, and the culture that’s shaped it, all fit some category – a positive one, we’d all hope, albeit, history shows us that a negative one can be written too.


Europeans do it to Europe, Americans do it to the United States, and the world does it to Africa. The world is riddled with negatives and countless tales of cruelty against one another. So what makes the African story any darker than our neighbor on this beautiful planet? Yes Africa does cry for help however, its cry is no louder than the American mother who just lost a loved one in a school shooting or protests in East Germany that led to the fall of the Berlin wall. It is true that Africa is a continent full of catastrophe, however, to insist on the negative overlooks the multidimensional nature of the African experience.

“A place of negatives, differences, darkness; a place of half devil half child.” Enough about how the world portrays the African Continent. What do you think about Africa? Not asking for one or two trite lines that we have heard so often. I am looking for your individual impression as a result of some of the isolated interactions you have had with the continent or its people. The quicker we understand that Africa is really a continent of differences and not every indigenous citizen can have the exact recollection of this beautiful land, the better it is . Now, more than ever, we need stories, individual stories and tribal stories. Stories can strip a people of its dignity but can also restore the dignity of a continent. And maybe eventually tell stories that preach the gospel according to Africans.

Depiction should never be a universal representative of one collective group. Let’s tell the African story, a balance of stories.

Last Edited by: Updated: February 25, 2014


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