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Chimamanda Adichie @ TED: The Danger of a Single Story



chimamanda TEDNigerian novelist Chimamanda Adichie delivered an absolutely amazing talk at the TEDGlobal 2009 held in Oxford, UK. We are not going to say too much. We will just leave it to you to watch! That said, we have to say that Chimamanda’s articulateness, poise and grace is just so inspiring!

The author just concluded a Creative Writers Workshop organized by Farafina Trust and sponsored by Nigerian Breweries. 25 budding writers participated in the workshop. They were selected from over 1,776 applications received from across the country. The participants were coached by established authors Chimamanda Adichie (Nigeria), Doreen Baingana (Uganda ), Nathan Englander (U.S), Binyavanga Wainana ( Kenya ) and Jackie Kay (UK).

One of the participants, Kayode Jegede has graciously submitted a short story to BN Prose. It will be published on Monday 12th October 2009.

Also read Chimamanda’s take on the District 9 ‘saga’ published in the UK Guardian – Why do South Africans hate Nigerians?

Chimamanda’s latest book, a collection of short stories ‘The Thing Around Your Neck’ is in bookstores now.


  1. Glory Edozien

    October 11, 2009 at 9:37 pm

    I am in awe…the linkage between the the single story and power is absoultley mind blowing!!!!…gosh!!!

  2. eggone

    October 11, 2009 at 9:51 pm

    she is the sort of “star” that should be representing Africans and Nigerians. Hugely talented and very intelligent young woman, i felt a swell of pride and slight emotion listening to this. Chimamanda is a true daughter of Africa. I hail thee!!!

  3. KK

    October 11, 2009 at 11:08 pm

    forget Nigeria.these are the kind of personalities that give me hope in humanity.
    you can see the simplicity in intelligence.
    intelligent, lucid, concise and direct.
    thank you,lady.

  4. Coco

    October 12, 2009 at 2:39 am

    she’s brilliant! i really hope to meet her in person one day, she’s just amazing. I’ve just ordered her latest book “The thing around your neck” and the anticipation is killing me!

  5. Nma

    October 12, 2009 at 2:53 am

    I love this babe!!!!! Can’t wait to read her third book!

  6. Nicole

    October 12, 2009 at 3:57 am

    Loved “The Thing Around My Neck” but “Half of a Yellow Sun” is pitilessly poignant and blunt, the type of historically inspired story that leaves you shaken but passionate by what once was and grateful and encouraged by what is. Her writing is as courageous as her speech which put a lot of her work in perspective for me because in it, you see her striving to achieve that balance, that wholeness even in her characters, in their lives and the environment that surrounds them. A brilliant speech. Thanks BN!

  7. Elpee

    October 12, 2009 at 5:25 am

    I watched this and I was in awe of her. I see the buzz about her. She is so well spoken and has a captivating presence. I applaud her big tyme…

  8. Juno

    October 12, 2009 at 7:23 am

    Awww, this is my girl right there! Such beauty, intelligence, grace, empathy…a pure spirit, a symbol of the best in all of us. Ms Adichie I so want to be like you when I grow up! You’re all right-she’s a shinning light of commonality for our humanity. So proud to be a young Nigerian woman and to share the same life space in her time.


    October 12, 2009 at 9:45 am

    wow!!! l was dumbfounded for a few minutes, proud to be an african
    This is the true concept on rebranding.

  10. Bunmi Ige

    October 12, 2009 at 10:39 am

    I wish she could read this, though on second thoughts I am sure she has heard this quite a number of times. You inspire me, along with many young Nigerians to keep at it till we reach the top, positively affect our country and the world. Weldone sis, you keep doing us proud.

  11. sweetie

    October 12, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    beta people dey wey get brain sha!!! chimamanda may God continue to bless you, you are such an inspiration

  12. Odera E

    October 12, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    Yesss! Chei, nekwa ezigbo nwanyi! Chimamanda, keep making us proud ooo! Representing Abba Town, Anambra St. all day 😀

  13. bimp

    October 12, 2009 at 6:21 pm

    I love this gurl right here! She is the truth!

  14. luvlife

    October 12, 2009 at 7:47 pm

    Bella, please correction, it’s “The thing around your neck.” I describe my reading of Half of a Yellow Sun as a relationship. Sometimes I couldn’t breathe because I was choked by the book. Other times I was overwhelmed by avarice, wanting to no more. At the end of the book, I cried and cried. Chimamanda-My God will not fail/fall, your name is as beautiful as the spirit that dwells in you. You will not fail, neither will your star cease to shine. You were born and sent to this generation. Because of you, I know that there is more to come from Nigeria. Watch out world….

  15. bussy

    October 12, 2009 at 8:14 pm

    woww!!! she is amazing and a true inspiration at that…

  16. Kojo Yiadom

    October 12, 2009 at 9:00 pm

    That was excellent, well done. I think Africans living abroad can relate to Chimammanda’s story with the college roommate. Great job sister.

  17. africhika

    October 12, 2009 at 9:17 pm

    Chimamanda’s writing is out-of-this world. “Half of a Yellow Sun” taught me so much about Biafra, a subject no one likes to talk about. She is the epitome of eloquence, grace, wisdom and intelligent. I’m sure the world will soon know about this powerful woman.

  18. yashi

    October 12, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    Ngozi Adichie, may God guy ur steps.Keep our flags(Nigeria) Flying.

  19. mary

    October 12, 2009 at 10:33 pm

    I have listened to this over and over again, I have been able to introduce my friends and colleagues in the UK to read her books to know more about my homeland, I was amazed to have a white colleague who had read all her books and that of so many other African authors- I have become challenged to read more other African authors as well, God bless you girl>

  20. pamela

    October 13, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    omg i love her so effing much..shes the best writing in the world the way she touches every part of culture in nigeria and mixes it with extreme passion its….a..amazing…just AMAZING

  21. ore

    October 13, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    well done, i guess nigerians are doing well all over. I also know of Cassava Republic press. They focus on Publishing works written by arfican authors. They have published lots of amazing stories. they recently had a book tour of Toni kans “Night of the creaking bed” and Doreen Bainganas “Tropical Fish”. You can check their site, Their stories are amazing. And their books are in all bookshops nationwide.

  22. Miss S

    October 13, 2009 at 5:03 pm

    wow what an inspiration

  23. me.

    October 13, 2009 at 6:35 pm

    sounds like an ad.

  24. Omoye

    October 14, 2009 at 8:15 pm

    Ngozie Adichie it is Nigerians like you, not our corrupt politicians and private sector chieftains, that makes one proud to carry a Nigerian passport. May God bless the womb that bore you and the father whose name you bear. You are rebranding Nigeria more than any self-gratifying Nigerian politician can ever imagine. And thank you so much for acknowledging the works of young Nigerians back home and for not feigning an American accent. I live and work in London and one of the biggest turn-offs for most Brits is when a Nigerian tries to speak with a British accent. It can be very annoying especially when s/he is not born or raised in the UK or America. You really made me proud. Keep on being graceful, humble, firm with the truth and good hearted. God bless you.

  25. shadey

    October 15, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    I met her in person at the Farafina Trust Creative writing training and she was more amazing,,she is so fluent, real and articulate. She signed my ‘half of a yellow sun’ which i cried after reading.
    go girl………

  26. Chidum

    October 15, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    I pray that you get married to a real man from Nigeria! This brain must not “drain”. Chidum

  27. Obi-talker

    October 15, 2009 at 9:21 pm

    my father and I watched this together. It was really great talk….that said, your professor that said your story is not authentic, I think something is wrong with him! love that you mentioned funmi Iyanda, I love her! so glad you mentioned that thing about “africa”, generalisation. I hate it when they do that but you know wat, they always do, and I fire back…I can shout.

  28. Nneka

    October 15, 2009 at 9:50 pm

    Love love love your comment! She’s truly remarkable. Looking forward to meeting her someday.

  29. Zoegirl

    October 16, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    Ngozi Adichie is IT as far as I’m concerned..she carries the weight of her learning with such grace..she’s a wonder. I love ‘The Thing Around Your Neck’. I think I’ve read it one million times!

  30. Bola

    October 18, 2009 at 12:55 am

    great speech n such an inspiration to us youth!

  31. Rock

    October 21, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    I must commend the literary genius of Chimamanda, and am proud of our common Nigerian heritage. I decided to emigrate from Nigeria about 15 years ago for fear of losing my sanity due to the perennial power outage, random armed robbery attacks, brazen and unbridled corruption in virtually all facets of public and private endeavours I was involved in for 10 years after my graduation from the Law School and enrolment into the Nigerian Bar.

    During those 10 years of my Nigerian working experience, I was Legal Adviser to Government, Merchant and Commercial Banks, as well as in the Private Bar.

    When I desired to start a family, it dawned on me that the Nigeria in which I grew up with virtually constant power supply, free and qualitative public education up to University level had become history. My mother was a primary school teacher while my father was a civil servant, yet they were able to raise 6 children with University education with their meagre earnings. This can only be a dream in today’s Nigeria. Armed robbery was a strange phenomenon during my childhood because it was exclusively engaged in by “dare-devils” like Doctor Oyenusi and Mighty Joe. Today, armed robbers are as educated and articulate as participants in this blog. Our country which was once the supplier of electric power to neighouring West African countries in addition to her citizenry, is now the leading consumer of power generating sets in the world. Our roads are in a sorry state of repair, making short-distance journeys seem like intercontinental travels. How about the unnecessary loss of lives to preventable road mishaps, shameful medicare, criminal gangsters (otherwise known as cultists). We know the rest of the story…

    I have no doubt in the ability of the individual Nigerian, having come across Nigerians of distinction in practically every profession of reckon around the world. My worry is that the average “Nigerian at Home” has accepted the retardation of our 50 year-old nation as normal. The average “Nigerian Abroad” is proud of her heritage yet depressed by the sorry state of our nation. Our people deserve better, considering the wealth and talent that we are blessed with. We are among the 30 wealthiest nations in the world yet our people are among the 30 poorest in the world.

    I have come to the conclusion that freedom is of the mind and not the body. We may seem to be free from colonialism and imperialism, but until the power to change our destiny lies in our hands by way of our votes, we are not free. Our nation has been held hostage by a criminal ruling cabal for decades – that is our single story.

  32. KK

    October 29, 2009 at 8:40 am

    Omoye, can i be your friend?
    I mean for real, your comment is almost as apt as the Speech in question.
    I have lost hope in this contraption called Nigeria but instances like this make me willing to own up and raise my head when in the gathering of persons of diverse nationalities.
    The accent is simply a manifestation of insecurity.There is no defence for fake accent.It is criminal and in the words of Sanusi, those guilty of such crimes ought to be tied to a stake and shot.
    Thank you.

  33. Lola

    October 29, 2009 at 9:36 am

    @ Comment by Rock: I understand your sentiments, but instead of sitting abroad and complaining, why dont you come back home and ty to make a difference

  34. Tola

    November 3, 2009 at 11:11 pm

    Ok, maybe you need to calm down just a little bit. Having a foreign accent is being equated with wholesale corruption and decimating millions of depositors’ funds?! There’s no comparison abeg!

  35. Hilda

    November 4, 2009 at 12:18 am

    Hats off!!! This lady has done more to re-brand Nigeria than any of those jokers out there. More grease to your elbows, we are so so proud to be in any way associated with you.

  36. Shazan Ali

    November 16, 2009 at 1:06 am

    I am truly humbled bu Chimamanda Adichie’s speech. I am a Trinidadian who recently visited Nigeria with some trepidation. The stories about Nigeria gave me a lop-sided view of what to expect. Today I have a different view of Nigeria and, while all of us have problems we need to recognize the good that is being done and try to spread that word as well. I salute Adichie for painting a different picture of her homeland while admonishing all of us in her own unique style to ensure that we listen to all sides of the story. I have shared her speech with my staff, children and others as we all can truly learn from it, Thank You Chimamanda for sharing your thoughts with us.

  37. Adejumoke

    December 2, 2009 at 7:06 pm

    As one often guilty of buying into and telling ‘the single story’, I am inspired and challenged to broaden my perspective about people and things.

  38. anamaria

    December 5, 2009 at 7:47 pm

    Waw! Thank God and your parents who gave an education that has liberated your mind and body. I have read your book” The Purple Hibscus” I could not rest it down until I finished it. You are right, Single story” is a mistake made by all people who are still ignorant of what all or other stories are all about. Unfortunately, we do not acknowledge our ignorance. This ignorance is made worse by the very people who use the ignorance of others trying to manipulate them to respond to their needs. Corruption in Africa is bled by such mentalities. Thank you for opening the World’s mind to the reality of our ignorance. The so named third developing countries will perharps never escape humiliations by the so called first world countries, forgeting that all humanity is sorrounded by millions of problems. The one who can seethe authenticity of humanity is God. Thanks Chima….

  39. sarah

    December 7, 2009 at 11:37 pm

    Great great speech. I was inspired and she speaks so well.

  40. akpos

    June 3, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    Can’t wait to meet her in person…She is definitely liberating Africa from the “Single story” impression of the western world.Kudos

  41. partyrider

    December 12, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    shes such an inspiration, have read only a few nigerian literature,after watching this i have ordered all her books..let this my exams just be over first..
    wow i wanna be like u wen i grow up 😀
    am ur newest fan,i pray to meet you in person one be sincere i think i have also been guilty of d single story a few times..God bless you and ur parents who gave u d best education..
    such an out put of intelligence..

  42. Temple Anuforo

    February 17, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    her writing has a soul, it’s alive. so it stires, moves, envelops you, until you stop merely reading, you start feeling and experiencing the pages;you begin to feel the very soul of the writer herself -deep like rivers! she is a rare gift!

  43. udokwu izuchukwu

    April 18, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    she is just a literally queen and my role model.”thank God i said that first as she is smiling to it”

  44. Chinwe Egboka

    September 11, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    great speech,so much inspiration i must say.With this am so proud of my identity….yes.

  45. Nneka Beauty Okeke

    September 11, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    I was impressed when I heard it on radio while in school on lion fm. I’ll say its not just a story but the truth. I also loved the voice,lovely. Say more and write more

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