The Re-imagined Storytelling Festival 2018 was hosted at the Alliance Francaise, Nairobi on December 15, 2018. Here is a snapshot of the festival.
Storytelling is the art of telling stories in public to an audience for their listening (and viewing) pleasure. Storytelling has been making serious inroads into the Kenyan literary space in the last few years. The storytelling community, for instance, have the longest non-institutional festival of arts in Kenya in the Sigana International Storytelling Festival running annually for close to a decade.
Another example of this growth was in evidence on December 15 as the Re-imagined Storytelling Festival 2018 rolled into town. The festival, running for the second time, was hosted by Positively African which has been organising cultural events around the city of Nairobi in the recent past.
This year there were performers from Morocco, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Australia and Kenya at the Alliance Francaise where all the action was. Wowing audiences were Jawad Elbeid and Adil Lemghari Idrissi (Morocco), Muthoni Garland, Ogutu Muraya, Chomba Njeru, Wangui Wa Kamonji, Leonidah Nanjala, Ernest Wambugu and Wangari The Storyteller (Kenya), Nomsa Mdlalose (South Africa), Usifu Jalloh and Alim Kamara (Sierra Leone), and Lillian Rodrigues-Pang (Australia).
Sessions with colourful titles like “Tales from Morocco,” “Living memories,” and “Prepared from my ancestors pot” were performed to fawning audiences of the young and young at heart. Incidentally, apart from performing at the festival, these performers spent time with Kenyan audiences in a variety of venues across the city.
The panel of note was “Folktales of the Future” moderated by Mshai Mwangola with Ayuma Michelle, Gugulethu Radebe, and Muthoni Garland as panellists. It was a spirited discussion, brilliantly moderated, on the folktale and where it was going as an art form.
There was a nook where one could sit and read all day which also had several books. The nook was popular with young readers who sat on the cushions and read the day away.
Writers Wangui Wa Kamonji, Sally Garama, and Gugulethu Radebe read excerpts from their stories in Story Story, Story Come an illustrated anthology of 12 re-imagined folktales by authors from across Africa and the Diaspora. The children’s book is published in West Africa by Ouida Books and in East and Southern Africa by Paivapo.
The highlight of the festival was the late afternoon/early evening performance of The Door of (No) Return performed by Maimouna Jallow, John Titi, Sanjali Jobarteh, and Patrick Gachie. The performance gave a series of stories from the Story Story, Story Come book mentioned earlier in this post. After the performance audience members would buy copies of the book and get them signed by the writers who were available.
The evening would end with Aghan Odero Agan being given an award for his contribution to Storytelling as a performance art in Kenya in the last few years. We couldn’t think of any one person more deserving of this honour.
More reports about the festival.
- Re-imagining African Storytelling Fete A Big Hit (Kenyan Arts Review).
- Folktales vividly re-imagined in performances, book (Daily Nation).
- Rediscovering truth: African storytellers tap into rich tradition (Reuters).