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AmaXhosa Kingdom Revives Traditional Storytelling with Nal'ibali

Written by: Sithandwa Ngwetsheni

Helping to revive the art of storytelling and preserve South Africa’s national treasure of folk tales –Nal’ibali, the national reading-for-enjoyment campaign, was at amaXhosa Kingdom in the Eastern Cape recently to bring its annual multilingual storytelling talent search, Story Bosso.

A nationwide contest aimed at reawakening a love of storytelling amongst all South Africans, this year’s competition places a special focus on traditional stories. Many of these stories have been passed down by word of mouth and are in danger of being lost. As a first step to protecting this unique part of South African heritage, the campaign is hosting storytelling and entry events across the country throughout September with the hope of collecting a minimum of 5 000 stories.

“The amaXhosa have a rich oral history and hosting a storytelling event in its kingdom is a great honour,”

Nompucuko Zakaza

Nompucuko Zakaza is a researcher in isiXhosa traditional stories and a local master storyteller who is collaborating with Nal’ibali to share her extensive knowledge of isiXhosa folk stories or iintsomi, before telling one of her favourite folktales at the event that took place at the Great Place in Nqadu.

Zakaza was joined by Nal’ibali storyteller, Madoda Ndlakuse, and the pair performed for educators and children from across ten local primary schools, sharing stories and the history of folktales in mix of English and isiXhosa. Supporting the event and showing the kingdom’s commitment to literacy through storytelling, Chief Salakuphathwa, the uncle of King Sigcawu of the amaXhosa also attended.
Said Chief Salakuphathwa.

"The kingdom supports traditional storytelling. It brings back so many of our long-forgotten memories, it reminds us of our history and heritage and bonds young people to their elders."

Chief Salakuphathwa

An important forerunner in children’s literacy development, stories are a great way to get children interested in books and reading right from birth. And, when told in home languages, stories assist children to build a strong foundation of language in their mother tongue, enabling them to perform better at school by easing the transition to English in Grade 4.

Helping adults and children to remember and tell the stories passed down to them, Nal’ibali has created a special set of storytelling playing cards featuring illustrations of common folktale characters, settings, and objects. These, together with children’s books featuring different traditional stories in different languages, will be given away to those who enter on the day and at similar community events to help increase the number of leisure books and literacy materials available in different official languages.

And, with prizes in the form of cash, airtime, books and caps up for grabs, there is added incentive for South Africans to get storytelling. A main prize of R5 000 cash, R1 000 book voucher, R500 airtime and a Story Bosso cap will be awarded to the overall Story Bosso winner. There will also be eight provincial winners, who will each receive R1 000 cash, R500 book voucher, R250 airtime and a Story Bosso cap. Spot prizes of books, airtime and caps will be available to those who enter online throughout the month.

“By encouraging young and old to tell and share our stories in all our languages, we’re hoping to not only support adults in becoming pivotal players in their children’s literacy development through this simple yet effective method, we’re hoping to ensure this beautiful craft which has the power to connect us all remains alive,”

Nompucuko Zakaza

All South Africans are invited to enter the Story Bosso contest by submitting their entries between 01 and 30 September as audio or video clips on the Nal’ibali website and mobisites (www.nalibali.org and www.nalibali.mobi), its Facebook page (@NalibaliSA), via email to info@nalibali.org or via Nal’ibali’s WhatsApp line: 076 920 6413.

A full list of public community storytelling and entry events along with rules and guidelines are available from the website.

For more information about the Nal’ibali campaign, or to access children’s stories in a range of SA languages, visit www.nalibali.org and www.nalibali.mobi or find us on Facebook and Twitter: nalibaliSA.




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