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Storytelling night… Imbawula 2.0

Storytelling night… Imbawula 2.0

by: Aluwani Ratshiungo - 26 February 2015

 

Storytelling is among the oldest forms of communication. Storytelling is the commonality of all human beings, in all places, in all times.— Rives Collins

Random Window and Quarphix Foundaion bring you this year’s first Imbawula session at Bean Republic in Illovo. The aim of the event is to preserve the ancient art of storytelling while encouraging literacy. There is no cover charge but donations are encouraged and the proceeds will go to the Quarphix Foundation’s flagship programme, the Radical Dreamers programme. T-shirts will also be on sale on the night starting from R100. The funds will be used to support the programme’s tutoring and reading pillar.

The bi-monthly storytelling initiative will be on the 26th of February and will feature four storytellers all with only one  constraint, a 10 minute time-limit. Our resident performer, Melo B. Jones will be telling us stories through music, adding an element of variety.

Live sat down with two of the speakers, blogger Kelesitse  Mokgatlhe and radio personality Claire Mawisa to find out what they had to say about storytelling.

Livity Africa x MRP_ Sports Collections_ Feb2015_ ©Siya Mkhasibe  091-Who is Kelesitse Mokgatlhe?

Kelly is a skinny caramel coloured girl from Botswana who came to Johannesburg to find a dream she is still not sure of. Oh, and she laughs a lot.

-What is your relationship with storytelling? Why do you think it’s important?

I think it’s important – and I’ll speak as a black person. Black people don’t speak. They suffer from mental illnesses, people are dying inside and don’t have anywhere to put it. Why not bring something like Imbawula – something so close to blackness. Black people tell stories, that’s what our grandparents used to do but we don’t do that anymore. It’s important to teach the next generation about something because talking and storytelling is imperative to growth.

-Do you have any memories of sitting around a fire or imbawula sharing stories? If not, what was the equivalent?

My grandfather had a huge yard with 27 dogs and we used to cook for them at night. We’d sit there and start (ka seTswana) Gatsi e rele… (the story goes…) I think that’s where my love for telling stories actually came from.

-Who is your favourite storyteller? (Author/Musician/Poet/Filmmaker)

I think I’m my favourite storyteller. It’s so easy to get lost in established authors like Maya Angelou, Mos Def, J Cole or Lebo Mashile because they are awesome people. But it’s about damn time I become my favourite storyteller.

-If you were to host your own Imbawula and had to pick four storytellers for the night (famous or ordinary, dead or alive) who would make the list?

  • Definitely Nova Masango because she’s like God personified when it comes to storytelling.
  • Maya Angelou- She played a big role in my growth.
  • My maternal grandmother. I never got to meet her but I was named after her and I hear that she was an amazing woman.
  • Mos Def but circa Black Star Mos Def not this dude in Cape Town. Brown Sugar Mos Def.

-Africans have a beautiful history, but because of colonisation, slavery, famine and genocide, the narratives we see are always predictable. Why is it important to find other stories to tell?

Our story is dying and we are being told how to tell our stories. All of a sudden there’s an influx of kente cloth and dashikis but it shouldn’t be fashionable to be African. Keeping our languages alive is also important because otherwise what are we holding on to? What are we gonna teach our kids?

-Do you think the art of storytelling is fading and why do you think that is?

I blame our parents. They wanted the best because they came from the worst and some of us got lost in “I don’t want my kids do go through what I went through” and we lost our art of storytelling. We lost our Africanness. It’s been a progressive erasing of who we are. I blame the generation before us but the onus is on us now.

-How can people contribute to the preservation of storytelling and in turn, literature?

Read! People don’t read any more. Enrich your mind, learn a new word. Show off with a new word. Just read.

-Without giving away your story, what can we expect on Thursday night?

Expect a lot of truth. It’s gonna be thought-provoking and funny. Expect to get to know me as a writer and understand that words are a beautiful thing and I can’t wait to share them with you.

Image of Claire Mawisa on Live SA

-Who is Claire Mawisa?

I find it difficult to answer this question..l am an ordinary girl. I’m easy going, I mean what I say and I say what I mean.

-What is your relationship with storytelling? Why do you think it’s important?

I think storytelling is very important because that’s where we learn and that’s how we communicate with each other. When you become a parent you realize how important it is to be able to tell stories and activate someone’s imagination with a few words.

-Do you have any memories of sitting around a fire or Imbawula sharing stories? If not, what was the equivalent?

My equivalent is sitting on a stoep in rural Eastern Cape watching cows and goats go by sharing stories with my mother.

-Who is your favourite storyteller? (Author/Musician/Poet/Filmmaker)

 Roald Dahl. I know it’s cliché but  Charlie and The Chocolate Factory made me fall in love with the power of storytelling. I couldn’t believe that Roald Dahl could put something on a paper and transport us to this world that didn’t actually exist.

-If you were to host your own Imbawula and had to pick four storytellers for the night (famous or ordinary, dead or alive) who would make the list?

  • Hugh Masekela is one of the greatest storytellers of all time. You ask him one question and he can take up to 30 minutes and he answers your questions by way of telling 5 different stories. He tells them genuinely and he’s so charming and funny.
  • I think a character from the bible would make an interesting storyteller. A bible is a bunch of stories put together so imagine hearing the story from someone who experienced it first hand. Maybe someone like Moses or Noah.
  • Thandiswa Mazwai would make a great guest because she has great energy and an ability to tell stories through her music.
  • I think Fela Kuti would tell great stories.

-Africans have a beautiful history, but because of colonisation, slavery, famine and genocide, the narratives we see are always predictable. Why is it important to find other stories to tell?

For me, I feel like we need to write down our stories; crystallize them; archive them. I’m very  jealous of Europeans for example, because they can tell you what their family member did in 1109. I think that’s dope.

-Do you think the art of storytelling is fading and why do you think that is?

There’s so many things that are fighting for our attention, we want things in bite size. Storytelling  stopped being the Sunday roast dinner with pumpkins, carrots, potatoes and all the other veggies, now it’s just a chicken nugget. We just want to eat a nugget and be done with it.

-How can people contribute to the preservation of storytelling and in turn, literature?

There’s a new trend now where everyone is writing a book – I love that. I’m not saying that everyone must write a book but I think if we can get better at writing our stories, it will make them last longer. Write a journal or something. It doesn’t have to be for the public. It can be for your children but writing it down gives it more permanence.

-Without giving away your story, what can we expect on Thursday night?

For me it’s a very special story. I don’t want to give anything away so I’ll just say it’s about connecting the dots…

 

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