When Africans perpetuate their single story

“The problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete…”

In “The danger of a single story”, Chimamanda Adichie eloquently describes the ways in which her life has been shaped and affected by stereotypes about Africans. Her message is not new, Binyavanga Wanaina’s “How not to write about Africa”  was hot when it was first written and is still doing the rounds.  

It has always been easy to criticize the outsiders who portray Africa as a failed continent and Africans as a cursed people (flashback to this discussion). However, I do like that Chimamanda also looks inward. As a child there is a stark absence of herself in the children books she is reading in Nigeria, why? She also stereotypes her houseboy (much in the way that she would be stereotyped later), why? 

My friend (who is African) has been complaining about a fellow African co-worker who is repeatedly dismissive of her based purely on her country of origin and religion. Another African co-worker confessed to having the same sentiments until she got to know the girl and they are now *BFFs*. Africans stereotyping each other is very common, Chimamanda hits at it in the article “Why do South Africans hate Nigerians?”

Its one thing to complain about being sterotyped and then turn around and do the same thing.


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