In John 1: 46 Jesus was also faced with effect of a single story when Philip said to Nathaniel that he had seen the messiah. Nathaniel was surprised and he said to Philip; “can anything good come out of Nazareth and Philip said; “come and see” Nathaniel did not believe it because Nazareth is not a popular place where we have the linage of priest or prophet. And many people had looked down on the town (Nazareth) that nothing good can come out of it let alone the Saviour of the world. But as we know that God’s ways are not our ways and he does whatever He wills He did not need to consult anybody before He does anything. The single story people know about Nazareth was that it is an abandoned area and nothing good will ever come out of it. But to our greatest surprise, Jesus the Saviour of the world came out of it, “what a marvelous God.”
Stories are told based on experiences. Our experiences help us to develop the energies that we need for the future. According to John Dewey a Philosopher in education he says that “Experience is the best teacher”. Many a time our experiences depict our behaviours and attitude. Every story told always have it effect on the listener, it can either be negative or positive. The positive effect of a story helps to develop and build the mind while the negative effect can easily destroy and pull down the whole structure of the human person. It is always advisable to experience people one-on-one rather than listening to single-story and act on ear says. According to Adichie, she says that “single stories can have significant negative impact. They can rob people of their dignity and emphasize how we are different rather than how we are similar. At its core, this talk encourages us to recognize how much stories matter.”
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Furthermore, the negative effect of a single story cut across every nook and cranny of our society today. Be it social, political and even cultural. In our society today, people are not given jobs base on merit or competence. Many a time people are given job base on relation and connection, even when they are not qualified for the job. Those who are qualified due to the negative effect of a single story may not get the job. Some people believe that some persons from a particular ethnic group are very lazy or not trustworthy when it comes to money. If people from such ethnic group are competent they should be given such an opportunity to work. Denying them of job opportunity is pointing to the negative effect of a single story. We should learn to experience people individually and not join the crowd to tell stories of people we have not known or met before. Most of the time, it is the innocent ones that always fall victim to these situations. Believing in a single story makes us behave like judges who never listen to the complaint of an accused person, rather jump into passing judgement. Many innocent people have suffered due to their colour, race or religion. No one is ready to listen to them, such people gradually suffer and die in silence.
Politically, the negative effect of a single story comes to play when we believe that it is only a particular set of people that can rule (born to rule) the country, by so doing any other person apart from these will be seen as an inferior. Country like this will not grow because they are being controlled and governed by a particular set of people (one-way traffic). There is no progress, even when the so-called set of ruling body is voted out they try all hook and crook means to get into power because they believe the political power belongs to them. For progress to take place politically in our country, there is need for us to put aside whatever stories we might have heard about a particular set of people and try to focus on the reality of our lives. Nepotism, favouritism, tribalism and unhealthy rivalry should not be given place again in our society so that we can attain the growth we actually deserve. Culturally, the negative effect of a single story also reflects in our various cultures whereby people who should be given a particular honour (chieftaincy title) and dignity due to their involvement in the community are not given either because they are poor or they do not belong to a particular clan.
In Igbo land, there are some set of people that are known as “Osu” these people did not create themselves they found themselves in such a situation, such people should be given the privilege and dignity they deserve as a human being. There should be no discrimination between persons, everybody should be given equal right. From the story I gathered, I was told that Osu are people who are not given opportunity to hold a position in whatever community they find themselves because they are seen as “outcast” not “free-born”. This is the negative effect of a single story that had been handed over from generations to generations. People born as Osu still suffer the negative effect of a single story, even till today. Let this change begin from us by associating with them and giving them the rightful position in society, community and the world.
Finally, according to Adiche the negative effect of a single story focuses on our difference rather than our similarities. Wherever there is an unhealthy rivalry there is bound to be a problem and this problem will bring about division and stagnation (no growth). Let us try to meet people one-on-one and deal with them accordingly rather than sit at a distance and begin to point an accusing finger or more so, treat them as if they are not human being. We should learn how to treat people with love, respect and dignity.
By Margret Ogbebor SSMA, a Catholic Nun, working in the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto. She is the Head Teacher of St Martin de Porres Nursery and Primary School Katsina. [email protected]