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  • I'm a storyteller.

    我是一位作家。

  • And I would like to tell you a few personal stories

    今天想向各位分享我的幾個故事

  • about what I like to call "the danger of the single story."

    以及一個我稱做是「單一故事的危險性」。

  • I grew up on a university campus in eastern Nigeria.

    我在奈及利亞東部的一個大學校園長大

  • My mother says that I started reading at the age of two,

    我媽媽說我兩歲就會看書,

  • although I think four is probably close to the truth.

    但我想四歲比較接近事實。

  • So I was an early reader, and what I read

    我很小就愛看書,而我當時讀的是

  • were British and American children's books.

    英美的童書。

  • I was also an early writer,

    我也很小就開始寫作。

  • and when I began to write, at about the age of seven,

    大約七歲就開始寫故事,

  • stories in pencil with crayon illustrations

    用鉛筆寫故事加上蠟筆畫的插圖,

  • that my poor mother was obligated to read,

    成了我媽媽必須要看的東西。

  • I wrote exactly the kinds of stories I was reading:

    而我寫的,正是我所讀的那些故事。

  • All my characters were white and blue-eyed,

    我的角色都是白皮膚、藍眼睛

  • they played in the snow,

    他們在雪中玩耍

  • they ate apples,

    他們吃蘋果

  • and they talked a lot about the weather,

    (笑)

  • how lovely it was

    還有,他們常常聊到天氣,

  • that the sun had come out.

    晴天是多麼的令人愉悅

  • (Laughter)

    (笑)

  • Now, this despite the fact that I lived in Nigeria.

    但這實在有點奇怪,因為

  • I had never been outside Nigeria.

    我住在奈及利亞,也沒出國過

  • We didn't have snow, we ate mangoes,

    我們那裡不下雪、吃的是芒果

  • and we never talked about the weather,

    也從來不討論天氣

  • because there was no need to.

    因為實在沒什麼好說的。

  • My characters also drank a lot of ginger beer

    我筆下的角色很常喝薑汁汽水

  • because the characters in the British books I read

    因為那些英美童書中的角色

  • drank ginger beer.

    就是喝薑汁汽水

  • Never mind that I had no idea what ginger beer was.

    更別說我當時根本不知道薑汁汽水是什麼了

  • (Laughter)

    (笑)

  • And for many years afterwards, I would have a desperate desire

    而在那之後的幾年,我就非常想試試

  • to taste ginger beer.

    薑汁汽水的滋味

  • But that is another story.

    但那是另一個故事了。

  • What this demonstrates, I think,

    從我個人的經驗,我想

  • is how impressionable and vulnerable we are

    這證明了我們對事物的印象是多麼容易

  • in the face of a story,

    受故事的影響,

  • particularly as children.

    尤其是小孩子。

  • Because all I had read were books

    因為我小時候所有的讀物

  • in which characters were foreign,

    書中的角色全是外國人,

  • I had become convinced that books

    我自然就相信

  • by their very nature had to have foreigners in them

    我寫的故事裡面就該有外國人

  • and had to be about things with which

    也要有一些在我生活中

  • I could not personally identify.

    無法親身體會的事物。

  • Things changed when I discovered African books.

    後來,我發現了非洲作家的作品

  • There weren't many of them available, and they weren't

    當時這樣的作品並不多

  • quite as easy to find as the foreign books.

    也不像那些外國書容易取得。

  • But because of writers like Chinua Achebe and Camara Laye

    但因為有Chinua Achebe和Camara Laye這些非洲作家

  • I went through a mental shift in my perception

    我對文學作品的看法

  • of literature.

    有很大的轉變。

  • I realized that people like me,

    我了解到,像我這樣的人:

  • girls with skin the color of chocolate,

    巧克力膚色的女孩,

  • whose kinky hair could not form ponytails,

    頂著爆炸頭而不是綁著馬尾,

  • could also exist in literature.

    也能出現在文學作品中。

  • I started to write about things I recognized.

    我開始寫作我熟悉的事物。

  • Now, I loved those American and British books I read.

    我也喜愛我讀的那些英美童書

  • They stirred my imagination. They opened up new worlds for me.

    它們激發了我的想像力、為我開啟新的世界。

  • But the unintended consequence

    但這種結果是

  • was that I did not know that people like me

    我認為像我這樣的人

  • could exist in literature.

    無法出現在文學裡

  • So what the discovery of African writers did for me was this:

    所以發現這些非洲作家的作品,

  • It saved me from having a single story

    讓我對於文學

  • of what books are.

    不再有單一故事

  • I come from a conventional, middle-class Nigerian family.

    我們家是普通的中產階級

  • My father was a professor.

    我的父親是教授

  • My mother was an administrator.

    母親是行政人員

  • And so we had, as was the norm,

    也因此家境還不錯,

  • live-in domestic help, who would often come from nearby rural villages.

    家裡也有能力請傭人來幫忙

  • So the year I turned eight we got a new house boy.

    我八歲那年,來家裡幫忙的是個男孩

  • His name was Fide.

    叫做 Fide。

  • The only thing my mother told us about him

    媽媽唯一告訴我們的

  • was that his family was very poor.

    是他們家非常窮

  • My mother sent yams and rice,

    我媽媽會送蕃薯、米

  • and our old clothes, to his family.

    和一些舊衣服給他們家。

  • And when I didn't finish my dinner my mother would say,

    如果我晚餐沒吃完,我媽會說

  • "Finish your food! Don't you know? People like Fide's family have nothing."

    「把飯吃完!妳不知道Fide他們家的人都沒東西吃嗎。」

  • So I felt enormous pity for Fide's family.

    所以我非常可憐 Fide。

  • Then one Saturday we went to his village to visit,

    一個星期六,我們拜訪他們的村落。

  • and his mother showed us a beautifully patterned basket

    他媽媽給我們看了一個編織精美的籃子,

  • made of dyed raffia that his brother had made.

    是他哥哥用染色的棕櫚樹葉編成的

  • I was startled.

    我嚇傻了。

  • It had not occurred to me that anybody in his family

    我從沒想過他們家的人

  • could actually make something.

    有能力作出那樣的東西

  • All I had heard about them was how poor they were,

    我所聽到的只有他們多窮

  • so that it had become impossible for me to see them

    所以我眼中的他們,除了窮之外

  • as anything else but poor.

    看不到別的。

  • Their poverty was my single story of them.

    他們的貧窮是我對他們的單一故事

  • Years later, I thought about this when I left Nigeria

    幾年後,我到美國唸大學

  • to go to university in the United States.

    我又想起這件事

  • I was 19.

    當時19歲

  • My American roommate was shocked by me.

    我的美籍室友被我嚇到了。

  • She asked where I had learned to speak English so well,

    她問我去哪學這麼標準的英文

  • and was confused when I said that Nigeria

    聽到我回答,奈及利亞的官方語言

  • happened to have English as its official language.

    剛好是英文時,她還一臉疑惑。

  • She asked if she could listen to what she called my "tribal music,"

    她請我放放我的「部落音樂」

  • and was consequently very disappointed

    結果看到我拿出瑪麗亞凱莉的時候

  • when I produced my tape of Mariah Carey.

    整個大感失望。

  • (Laughter)

    (笑)

  • She assumed that I did not know how

    她想當然地認為

  • to use a stove.

    我不會用爐子

  • What struck me was this: She had felt sorry for me

    我突然意識到,她還沒見過我

  • even before she saw me.

    就已經可憐我了。

  • Her default position toward me, as an African,

    她對我這個非洲人的預設立場

  • was a kind of patronizing, well-meaning pity.

    是可憐、好意的憐憫

  • My roommate had a single story of Africa:

    我室友對非洲有個單一故事

  • a single story of catastrophe.

    就是它充滿災難。

  • In this single story there was no possibility

    在這單一故事裡,容不下

  • of Africans being similar to her in any way,

    非洲與她有任何相似之處

  • no possibility of feelings more complex than pity,

    容不下除了憐憫之外的態度

  • no possibility of a connection as human equals.

    容不下同是人類則生而平等。

  • I must say that before I went to the U.S. I didn't

    我承認我到美國之前

  • consciously identify as African.

    沒有完全意識到自己是非洲人。

  • But in the U.S. whenever Africa came up people turned to me.

    但在美國,只要提到「非洲」,大家就會轉向我

  • Never mind that I knew nothing about places like Namibia.

    也不管我對像納米比亞的地方一點都不了解。

  • But I did come to embrace this new identity,

    但我雙手擁抱這個新身分

  • and in many ways I think of myself now as African.

    在很多面向我認為自己是非洲人。

  • Although I still get quite irritable when

    但聽到大家把非洲當成一個國家時

  • Africa is referred to as a country,

    我還是會有點生氣。

  • the most recent example being my otherwise wonderful flight

    最近一次,就是在兩天前拉哥斯起飛的班機上

  • from Lagos two days ago, in which

    這趟旅行近乎完美

  • there was an announcement on the Virgin flight

    就差在維京航空的機上廣播

  • about the charity work in "India, Africa and other countries."

    關於「印度、非洲、和其他國家」的慈善工作

  • (Laughter)

    (笑)

  • So after I had spent some years in the U.S. as an African,

    在美國當了幾年的非洲人之後

  • I began to understand my roommate's response to me.

    我漸漸了解我室友的反應。

  • If I had not grown up in Nigeria, and if all I knew about Africa

    如果我不是在奈及利亞長大,我所認識的非洲

  • were from popular images,

    就會是普遍的形象,

  • I too would think that Africa was a place of

    我也會認為非洲充滿了

  • beautiful landscapes, beautiful animals,

    漂亮的風景、美麗的動物

  • and incomprehensible people,

    和野蠻人

  • fighting senseless wars, dying of poverty and AIDS,

    打著沒意義的仗、死於貧窮與愛滋

  • unable to speak for themselves

    沒有思想

  • and waiting to be saved

    等待好心的白人

  • by a kind, white foreigner.

    來拯救我們

  • I would see Africans in the same way that I,

    我看待非洲就會像小時候

  • as a child, had seen Fide's family.

    看待 Fide 家那樣

  • This single story of Africa ultimately comes, I think, from Western literature.

    這種對於非洲的單一故事,我想是從西方文學開始的。

  • Now, here is a quote from

    下面是一位英國商人

  • the writing of a London merchant called John Locke,

    約翰洛克所寫的,

  • who sailed to west Africa in 1561

    他在1561年航行到西非

  • and kept a fascinating account of his voyage.

    並且詳細的記下他的航程。

  • After referring to the black Africans

    在形容非洲人為

  • as "beasts who have no houses,"

    「沒有房子的野獸」之後

  • he writes, "They are also people without heads,

    他寫道: 「他們沒有頭」

  • having their mouth and eyes in their breasts."

    「嘴巴和眼睛長在胸部」

  • Now, I've laughed every time I've read this.

    我每次讀完每次笑。

  • And one must admire the imagination of John Locke.

    大家也一定很欽佩約翰洛克的想像力。

  • But what is important about his writing is that

    但最重要的是,他寫的東西

  • it represents the beginning

    開始了

  • of a tradition of telling African stories in the West:

    西方人眼中傳統的非洲印象

  • A tradition of Sub-Saharan Africa as a place of negatives,

    一種次撒哈拉非洲的負面印象

  • of difference, of darkness,

    是和他們不同且黑暗的印象,

  • of people who, in the words of the wonderful poet

    住著一群,我引用詩人羅德雅.吉百齡

  • Rudyard Kipling,

    所寫的

  • are "half devil, half child."

    「半是惡魔,半是人」

  • And so I began to realize that my American roommate

    我漸漸了解我美國室友的想法

  • must have throughout her life

    她的一生

  • seen and heard different versions

    一定聽過各種版本的

  • of this single story,

    單一故事,

  • as had a professor,

    就如有位教授

  • who once told me that my novel was not "authentically African."

    曾告訴我,我的小說描寫的不是「真正的非洲」。

  • Now, I was quite willing to contend that there were a number of things

    我願意承認小說裡

  • wrong with the novel,

    有些錯誤的地方,

  • that it had failed in a number of places,

    不夠好的部份,

  • but I had not quite imagined that it had failed

    但我很難想像我的小說

  • at achieving something called African authenticity.

    沒有傳達「真正的非洲」。

  • In fact I did not know what

    而事實上我不曉得

  • African authenticity was.

    什麼叫「真正的非洲」。

  • The professor told me that my characters

    那位教授說,我書中的角色

  • were too much like him,

    太像他了

  • an educated and middle-class man.

    受教育、中產階級。

  • My characters drove cars.

    我筆下的角色開車

  • They were not starving.

    沒有餓肚子

  • Therefore they were not authentically African.

    所以他們不是真正的非洲人。

  • But I must quickly add that I too am just as guilty

    但我也要馬上承認我自己

  • in the question of the single story.

    對別人也犯過單一故事的錯。

  • A few years ago, I visited Mexico from the U.S.

    幾年前,我到墨西哥

  • The political climate in the U.S. at the time was tense,

    當時美國的政治情況有點緊張

  • and there were debates going on about immigration.

    大家都在吵移民話題。

  • And, as often happens in America,

    在美國就會常常聽到

  • immigration became synonymous with Mexicans.

    移民等同於墨西哥人這一類的話。

  • There were endless stories of Mexicans

    還有一堆關於墨西哥人的故事

  • as people who were

    說他們是如何

  • fleecing the healthcare system,

    鑽醫療系統的漏洞

  • sneaking across the border,

    從邊境溜進來

  • being arrested at the border, that sort of thing.

    在邊界被逮捕之類的事。

  • I remember walking around on my first day in Guadalajara,

    我就記得第一天在瓜達拉哈拉逛街時

  • watching the people going to work,

    看著工作的人們,

  • rolling up tortillas in the marketplace,

    市場裡有人做西班牙蛋餅

  • smoking, laughing.

    抽菸、大笑。

  • I remember first feeling slight surprise.

    我記得我當時有點吃驚

  • And then I was overwhelmed with shame.

    隨後感到非常丟臉

  • I realized that I had been so immersed

    我發現自己完全相信

  • in the media coverage of Mexicans

    媒體所報導的墨西哥人

  • that they had become one thing in my mind,

    以至於他們在我心中的形象

  • the abject immigrant.

    就是卑鄙的移民。

  • I had bought into the single story of Mexicans

    我也曾對墨西哥有單一故事

  • and I could not have been more ashamed of myself.

    我也實在感到很羞恥。

  • So that is how to create a single story,

    單一故事的產生

  • show a people as one thing,

    就是以同一種方式

  • as only one thing,

    描述同一種人

  • over and over again,

    一遍又一遍,

  • and that is what they become.

    最後他們就會變成那樣。

  • It is impossible to talk about the single story

    講到單一故事就不能不講

  • without talking about power.

    權力

  • There is a word, an Igbo word,

    我想到權力

  • that I think about whenever I think about

    就會想到伊博語裡的一個字

  • the power structures of the world, and it is "nkali."

    有關世界上的權力結構的 「nkali」

  • It's a noun that loosely translates

    是個名詞,大概翻譯是

  • to "to be greater than another."

    「比其他人更厲害」

  • Like our economic and political worlds,

    而就像談到經濟與政治一樣

  • stories too are defined

    故事也是建立在

  • by the principle of nkali:

    「nkali」的原則上

  • How they are told, who tells them,

    故事如何傳遞、誰來傳遞,

  • when they're told, how many stories are told,

    什麼時候、多少次

  • are really dependent on power.

    都是由權力控制的。

  • Power is the ability not just to tell the story of another person,

    權力不只能述說故事

  • but to make it the definitive story of that person.

    還能創造決定性的故事。

  • The Palestinian poet Mourid Barghouti writes

    巴勒斯坦詩人穆里‧巴爾古提曾說

  • that if you want to dispossess a people,

    如果你想剝奪一個人的身分,

  • the simplest way to do it is to tell their story

    最簡單的方法就是說故事

  • and to start with, "secondly."

    而且從「第二點」開頭。

  • Start the story with the arrows of the Native Americans,

    所以講美國印地安人的故事時,先講他們的箭

  • and not with the arrival of the British,

    而不是英國殖民

  • and you have an entirely different story.

    就會有全然不同的故事。

  • Start the story with

    先講非洲各國

  • the failure of the African state,

    失敗的故事

  • and not with the colonial creation of the African state,

    而不是被殖民的部份

  • and you have an entirely different story.

    就會有全然不同的故事。

  • I recently spoke at a university where

    我最近到一所大學演講

  • a student told me that it was

    有個學生告訴我

  • such a shame

    真是可恥

  • that Nigerian men were physical abusers

    奈及利亞的男人都很暴力

  • like the father character in my novel.

    就像我小說中的父親一樣

  • I told him that I had just read a novel

    我告訴他,我最近看了一本小說

  • called American Psycho --

    書名是《美國殺人魔 》

  • (Laughter)

    (笑)

  • -- and that it was such a shame

    真是可恥

  • that young Americans were serial murderers.

    美國年輕人都是殺人魔

  • (Laughter)

    (笑)

  • (Applause)

    (掌聲)

  • Now, obviously I said this in a fit of mild irritation.

    當時我實在有點不悅