Finding joy through 26 letters


Acclaimed author, Chimamanda Adichie, delivered the University of Cape Town Vice-Chancellor’s Open Lecture for this year. She made a compelling case for storytelling as she shared on The Idolatry of Theory: a defense of storytelling. Let’s take a few moments and reflect on this revolutionary lecture.

It’s often said that in life there are two certainties: death and taxes. In actual fact, there is a third certainty which is often taken for granted: everyone has a story. No matter how big or small, everyone has a story that is unique and is waiting to be told. Adichie emphasized this when she mentioned that people are “hungry for stories they haven’t heard.” This subtle nudge is that voice of encouragement that we all need to hear to muster up the courage to tell our stories.

In joyous moments, take time to write. In sad moments, take time to write. In all the moments in between these two extremes, take time to write. It’s easier than it sounds but the power of storytelling is that it makes the world a better place. Think about it. With only 26 letters you can change how someone feels, make them see a different perspective, give them much-needed comfort and most times healing. As Adichie elaborates, “It is storytelling that enables us to deal with the world in all of its glorious and complicated messiness, because life is messy.”

Listening to Adichie share about the defense of storytelling, it’s clear to see why she says that literature is her one true love. She encouraged the audience to write where they felt uncomfortable because it was through that vulnerability that stories that can sustain one were birthed.


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