What’s In A Name?

Unfinished Stories. What do I mean?

This blog’s theme has been inspired by Chimamanda Adichie’s TedTalk The Danger of a Single Story. As you can read in my first blog post, for me, this TedTalk is extremely thought provoking and has led me to question how I think of and represent myself and others, the complexities of who we are and the danger of flattening our identities to one single idea, concept or story.

Adichie describes the danger in a single story as one of creating “stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story, become the only story.” When speaking about Africa, the single story, which has become the only story, of Africa is one of children with flies in the eyes and protruding bellies, of famine, of individual evil people that cause civil wars (such as the story of Kony that is blowing up the internet right now).

Adichie goes on to explain that we have created “a tradition of Sub-Saharan Africa as a place of negatives, of difference, of darkness, of people who, in the words of the wonderful poet Rudyard Kipling, are ‘half devil, half child.'”. Through again and again showing Africa as one thing, one story has been created. One truth. But this is not the only story of Africa. Stories, words and images have power, they have shaped our beliefs, our perceptions, our knowledge and our truth.

But this is not the only story of Africa.

In my blog, I hope to portray a diversity of stories. Stories of myself, my experience, the people I meet, of the complexities of the poverty I see and of the development work that coexists with it.  The colours, beauty, difficulties and life come out when we share many stories. Hopefully, all the while recognizing that each post will just be a thread of a more full story.

Moreoever, as Adichie says: “Stories matter. Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign, but stories can also be used to empower and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people, but stories can also repair that broken dignity.”

So without further ado, I invite and strongly encourage you to watch Adichie’s TedTalk yourself.

Adichie – The Danger of A Single Story

Some of my favourite quotes from it:

  • “ A patronizing, well meaning pity. She had a single story of Africa: a single story of catastrophe.”
  • “So that is how to create a single story, show the people as one thing, as only one thing, over and over again, and that is what they become.  ”
  • “stories matter, many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign, but stories can also be used to empower and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people, but stories can also repair that broken dignity.
  • “When we reject a single story, when we realize that there is never a single story, about any place, we regain a kind of paradise.

About the Blog

This blog is meant to be for one and for all – ‘developmenters’, agriculturalists, EWBers, friends and family.

I’m hoping it will be a fun mix of impressions, thoughts and stories from my life as well as more development thinking and analysis – a little something for everyone!

As I get used to having a blog, I am sure it will grow and be continously shaped by the community that reads and interacts with it. This means that you -the reader – have a job. I would love for this blog to be as interactive as possible. It would mean the world to me to have you regularly replying to my posts, asking questions, instigating conversation and sending me your own thoughts, anecdotes, articles and pictures. The more diverse the dialogue, the fuller the story.


  1. […] What’s In A Name? Posted by: mhirdyounger | March 9, 2012 […]

  2. […] What’s In A Name? Posted by: mhirdyounger | August 29, 2012 […]

  3. please how can i apply into your school ,

    • Hello Michael,

      Thanks for your inquiry. To apply to study at Ghana’s agricultural college, you can fill out an application form available at any of the five agricultural colleges (Kumasi, Ejura, Ohawu, Damongo and Pong Tamale), any regional MoFA office or the national MoFA HRDMD office in Accra.

      Note that the colleges are not schools of Engineers Without Borders, but national public training institutions in agriculture. EWB is a partner of these institutions.

      All the best,


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