Story time with Gcina Mhlope
In celebration of Heritage Month, the Nal’ibali Reading-for-Enjoyment initiative caught up with one of Mzansi’s best-loved storytellers, Gcina Mhlope.
Mhlope has travelled the world to tell stories. She's even received an honorary doctorate from five different universities for her work and commitment to storytelling and literacy development!
Since 1988, SA’s master storyteller has been holding storytelling workshops in libraries and schools across the country. This Heritage Day month, Nal’ibali calls on you to tell stories of your own – with a little insight and inspiration from her:
Who told you stories when you were a child?
When did you start telling stories and to whom did you tell them?
First I shared them with my school friends and then to the children I took care of as a nanny for a few months. I began storytelling more seriously when I told stories in libraries and museums during a trip to the USA as an actress and director.
What is your favourite story to tell?
For many years my favourite one was ‘Queen of the tortoises’ but at the moment it is ‘Lungile, the most beautiful girl in the land’.
Where do you get the stories from?
The stories I tell are from long ago or I hear them on my international travels. Of course, since I am a writer, I write new stories too!
Do you prefer reading fiction or non-fiction?
Both – all I need is a story that is well-told.
The book that changed my world was...
Wrath of the Ancestors (in isiXhosa) by A.C. Jordan – stunning!
My favourite place to read is.....
My bed and in airports when I travel
What languages do you read in?
Mostly English but also isiZulu and isiXhosa, especially poetry
At the moment I’m reading…
Great South African Teachers by Jonathan Jansen and Nangamso Koza
The next book I want to read is...
The First Philipino which is the autobiography of Jose Rizal
Do you ever re-read books?
The greatest lesson that I learnt from a book or story was that...
An author’s voice can jump up from the page and straight into my heart! Some of the authors that have done this for me are Isabelle Allende, Alice Walker, AC Jordan, Sindiwe Magona, Paulo Quello, Maya Angelo and Mariama Ba.
Do you prefer to read on ipad, kindle or hardcopy?
Hardcopy, of course!
A book that made me cry...
Broken open by Elizabeth Lesser and The Colour Purple by Alice Walker
A book that made me laugh...
The Big Book of Tashi by Anna and Barbara Finberg
Every child should read...
Haroon and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie
When my daughter was younger, her favourite picture book was …
So much! by Trish Cooke and Helen Oxenbury. For a while we talked about the characters in the book as if they were our family friends – especially Uncle Didi.
When and where did you read to your daughter?
All the time and all over the place - in the garden, in bed! She loved books and stories from the start.
What language/s did you read to her in?
IsiZulu and English – it was such fun! Her father read to her in German.
DID YOU KNOW? As we share and tell stories, we inspire children to want to tell stories themselves –this is where the literacy magic begins. On 24 September, share a story with the children in your life and then challenge them to pass it along. For a special Heritage Day story to share (one of Madiba’s favourites) visit www.nalibali.org or choose from a range of multingual stories here: http://www.sowetanlive.co.za/goodlife/youthtube/