Rhetorical Analysis of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Speech

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The speech I have chosen for my rhetorical analysis is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s 2009 Ted Talk, “The Danger of a Single Story.” Adichie’s speech captured my interest because stereotypes are usually misleading and block constructive comprehension. She was particularly compelling bringing our collective attention to the common potential misrepresentations frequently shared as stories are relayed by storytellers with an agenda or one-sided perspective that often lack empathy for the other side. Ted Talks advocates making the public more aware of ideas the media group considers worth sharing, airing scripted speeches filmed before live-audiences. Adichie wisely took advantage of this favorable format to reach her immediate audience with a sympathetic leaning as well as the public at large. Such a context actually fuels the exigence of her argument much like a sports franchise playing in front of a home stadium crowd, yet aired to a broader viewing audience. 

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Adichie is a Nigerian storyteller and writer that authors a wide variety of novels and short stories. In this particular speech, she indicates her concern for stereotypes in stories that mislead the demographic group of children. Adichie is known for her skill of enchanting her audience’s attention by mixing in her personal experiences on how she personally fits in and relates to her stories. Because of her experiences and life-connections to many of the stories she shares, audiences find her appeals resonating, trusting her knowledge and analogies as a credible source on the subject matters she covers. 

Adichie’s speech expresses there is an urgent need to stop telling children incomplete stories with half-facts, creating an exigence pressing for young people to be given complete-full and true facts to better enable them to develop worldviews that are accurate and more constructive to their immediate environments and the global community at large. 

The purpose of this particular speech was to make people realize that their version of a story isn’t necessarily the complete story or the only perspective. Adichie begins her speech by stating that when she was a small kid, common stories such as fables and other readings she could get her hands on all failed to explain accurately a favorable genuineness of African culture and ethnicity. She ends her speech on the constructive note that Africans and people of color, globally, must learn to focus on the positive aspects of their culture and do a better job of sharing them with members of the given community and outsiders alike. 

Adichie warns that a single perspective, or one-sided story for that matter, is very often psychologically degrading and very dangerous because it can rob a people of their dignity. Such negative aspects stress our differences along cultural and racial lines more so than embracing our collective similarities to each other as members and relatives all in the human family. To aid in her advocacy of multiple perspectives, Adichie effectively tells sad stories starting when she was a small kid, her family hired a young boy as a servant. Her mother would share yams and other foods with the house-boy’s poor family. 

Moving on, she expresses to her listeners when she was in college, her American roommate wrongly assumed and pitied her even before actually meeting Adichie, believing she did not speak English. As if speaking English denotes a higher level of intelligence, which it clearly doesn’t. Finally, Adichie arranges and expresses her speech in a way that motivates her listeners to rationalize Black African centered stories were very hard to find when she was a child, often pushed off the shelves by foreign centered stories. 

Then she reinforces the points of her argument pointing out that stereotypes can only be combated and corrected when readers, viewers of film, and story listeners have a wide selection from all perspectives to indulge. Delivering her speech any differently most likely could have lost the audience’s capacity to follow along or grasp the significance for a need for more accurate and favorable accounts of African culture. 

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