The storytelling renaissance will be welcome remnant of the pandemic

The ancient art of storytelling, muted in the preceding years of the pandemic is seeing a revival in living rooms as families take shelter to escape the scourge of the coronavirus. Notwithstanding the provincial borders which remain sealed to contain the virus, every weekend at 11:00am they are dissolved as storytellers from across the country bring their stories to life on National Book Week’s Books Beyond Words.

The weekly event hosted by South Africa’s annual reading awareness week, National Book Week (NBW), dedicated to encouraging leisure reading and promoting the importance of books, has been inviting storytellers every weekend since the lockdown began in March, for a live event to tell children an interesting story, including from their own books.

NBW is a joint initiative of the South African Book Development Council (SABDC) and The Department of Sport, Arts and Culture.

“In addition to entertaining children and adults, stories educate and are therapeutic especially in times like these where fear is omnipresent,” says Elitha van der Sandt, CEO, South African Book Development Council. 

“The renaissance of storytelling despite the plethora of services that stream content 24/7 can be attributed to the oral tradition’s ability to involve audiences in the process of telling of the story to such an extent that it becomes participatory.”

This weekend’s storyteller is Nozindaba who will present stories in isiNdebele and English. Her story is titled Ikosazana nesi Gwagwa / Princess and the Frog and is about a young princess who learns the importance of respect.

A multifaceted storyteller, Nozindaba is also a teacher, author, traditional healer/practitioner and an arts facilitator. She is a veteran at National Book Week where she has presented on numerous occasions. 

“The platform is national so the stories we have been selecting come from different provinces and many are in indigenous languages. We have also been mixing well-known favourites and even some original writing,” adds van der Sandt.

“When families listen to a story together and children share this experience, it creates a bond. Stories are also important for the well being of children as they feed imagination. Storytelling may not provide all the imagery for the child in the way that a TV does, but it provides all the opportunities to practice the art of imagination which is fundamental to innovation. In a post pandemic world, our hope is that families will continue this tradition and come together for a good story to relive the joys it brought during the crisis.”

Join us to experience the magic of storytelling on Saturday 27 June 2020 at 11:00am on NBW’s Facebook page.

Books Beyond Words 27 June 2020


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