Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Chris Abani on the stories of Africa

By Amber H.

A Nigerian man, Chris Abani uses humor to narrate a personal story about his own written work, and other stories about Africa. He uses examples from America, and his home country Nigeria, to connect between both on how we're taught to be who we are. He shares an interesting talk with everyone: "what we know about how to be who we are".

Chris Abani provides a lot of examples based on how we're taught to be ourselves. He provides lots of proof for how he believes that we have examples set for everyone to be the same. He shares in his presentation that what we know about how to be who are comes from novels, movies, and fashion magazines and not from the news. A connection from this talk to something everyone notices in young teenage girls is that they stride to look like the famous stars in magazines. They pace themselves to try and succeed to perfection. They want to dress like them, look like them, act like them, and look up to them because they're so popular. In other words, it's the agents of our imagination who really shape who we are. He connects Africa to the United States by using a Nigerian language. He uses the Igbo language, and says a word can mean two different things such as "igwe". "Igwe" is classified as two different words, one means heaven or sky and the other means bicycle or iron. He shares that having tricks in different languages is good because language complicates things, which is true in numerous ways. If we didn't have different languages, their wouldn't be different cultures and history that we can study. There also wouldn't be different types of food we can try, and experience a difference when we travel to other countries. "People often think that language mirrors the world in which we live in", Mr.Abani disagrees. "We ascribe language a value, the language actually makes the world we live in." He expresses that he does not think the stories are the problem, it's the terms of humanity that we are willing to bring to complicate every story. That statement is very true, because if you think about a dramatic problem in your own personal life there is always something untrue that is brought into the situation.

Considering the audience, the language he used was appropiate, but in my perspective took a few times of watching the presentation to understand what his points were. Mr. Abani presented his speech very effectively and had a very good point. I agree with his arguement of how people are set up to be the same from anywhere to famous stars to someone very close to you.

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