The Danger of the Single Story.


We are all guilty of this.

Before I met my husband, the only information I had about the countries in Africa came from western literature and news reels which came only from the European perspective. Since then I have realised that not only is that literature unfairly damning of Zimbabwean capabilities, but the news is about the political situation is vastly exaggerated. Why that is, is a story for a different post but think about it: when is the last time you heard about something positive about Zimbabwe? I can only speak about what I know about it, and only had my incorrect impressions corrected through meeting people who lived there and by visiting there myself, but marrying a Zimbabwean born UK national, and a single visit does not an expert make.

I was talking earlier with my in-laws about how my husband’s step-mother assumes we are made of money and can afford to upsticks and visit her and my husband’s father and brothers in Zimbabwe (or Australia where my brother-in-law lives) whenever the fancy takes us, without any constraints on how much time my husband can take from work (regardless of how many times we have assured her otherwise). After watching this, I realise now that she is also the victim of only hearing one story: the story of the wealthy British, with all mod cons, money to spare and not a care in the world, outside our own four walls. On a visit to us several years ago, she was alarmed that our home was not as big as she had imagined them to be and when we visited her and my father-in-law I found out why but that is also another story and one which I am not comfortable discussing on this blog.

Next time your read a novel, or hear a negative news story, think about how it could have been presented from the other side, then again and again.  Don’t just take what they say at face value. Critical thinking is not only applicable to science (or history), it applies to every area of our lives but when all the evidence we find points in a single direction, we freethinkers are also vulnerable to falling prey to the single story.

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