Storytelling Festival by Kwani? – Keeping the culture of storytelling alive

StoryFestival by Kwani?

I have always loved stories. Storytelling was one of my favorite parts of the evening (after eating of course!). We would always have my dad telling us stories of how he grew up or the things he went through as he grew up. These were the good old days where our parents, grandparents and other elders in our family would narrate stories for us, and with technology constantly invading our lives, the art of storytelling has become rare. This is why storytelling is important:

1. It enhances listening skills of children: in most cases children like to talk more and do other things like playing with their toys more than they would listen. But with a habit of listening to stories narrated to them on a regular basis, they tend to develop better listening and understanding skills. This can also help them focus more in class.

2. With the rise of technology and increasing social media sites constantly developing every day, children are fed more from the internet than from their elders like in the olden days. Thus, their minds become a dumping ground for whatever they feed themselves. This has real decreased the art of imagination as they get spoon-fed instead of using their imaginative capacity.

3. Stories that are narrated by our elders help us get in touch with and grow deeper with our cultural roots. Most children these days know very little about their culture and the history of their people. As Kenyans we are blessed with a diverse and rich cultural heritage and we should take advantage of the wisdom that our elders hold for them to teach us more on our different cultures. It also helps to get acquainted with our mother tongue. Telling stories in your mother tongue as it is interpreted to the child helps them understand more about their culture and will also make them curious to know more.

4. It broadens horizons: Hearing stories or tales from other countries helps children know about the world they live in. they get to see that there is so much to explore.

In the light of this, Nairobi’s finest storytellers will be gathering to launch a global online writing contest and recreate a magical day of storytelling on 19th March 2016 at Kwani? In celebration of the World Storytelling Day. The day-long event which starts at 11am and ends at 9pm will include interactive performances; reading nooks; workshops on illustrating, writing and poetry; an art exhibition and auction; a stories booth for the children to record their own stories; books stalls and much more, all in a bid to recreate a magical day of telling stories.

Some of the performances include appearances by Sitawa Namwalie, Mumbi Kaigwa, Raya Wambui, Patricia Kihoro and Maimouna Jallow who will re-interpret five African novels by various women authors. The event aims to recapture people’s minds and encourage a culture of sharing tales and wisdom through performance and creating new platforms for African oral literature. It will also be a celebration of women, as this year’s theme for World Storytelling Day is ‘Strong Women’.

StoryFestival by Kwani?
StoryFestival by Kwani?

BAKE (Bloggers Association of Kenya) will also be participating in this year’s Storytelling Day celebrations by holding a Teens Online Safety Training from 2.30pm to 4pm. This training will aim to sensitize the youth on the risks they face while using the internet and the measures to take to counter those risks. It is meant to educate the teens and their parents about the glaring risks of encountering Cyber bullies, internet trolls and even stumbling upon pornographic sites online. This training targets teens from age 15 – 20 and their parents. You can visit this link to register for the event.

At midnight, the Re-imagined Modern Tales website will officially go live (, where African writers across the world get to re-imagine the traditional folktale with messages and settings that are relevant to today’s youth – from corruption, to environmental degradation and religious radicalization. Selected works will be published in an Anthology of New Tales and will be performed in schools and communities nation-wide.

The storytelling festival is the first in a series of events by Positively African to promote oral storytelling and use tales to educate and engage both young and old alike on critical issues affecting the continent.

The art of storytelling should be one that must be passed down from generation to generation. This article expounds more on why we should keep this intricate part of our lives and cultures alive.

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I am an idealist, an emotional dreamer. A goddess encapsulated in a densely melanated work of art. On normal days, I am an environmental enthusiast, PR practitioner, Events organizer, Coffee addict, Poetry lover. I also sometimes jot down my thoughts at