An old African art form revived in museums

STORYTELLING is currently filling the pregnant silent pauses commonto museums, thanks to the creative activities of the National Lotteries Distribution Trust Fund-backed Kwesukela Storytelling Festival.

STORYTELLING is currently filling the pregnant silent pauses commonto museums, thanks to the creative activities of the National Lotteries Distribution Trust Fund-backed Kwesukela Storytelling Festival.

Running for the duration of the 2010 Fifa Soccer World Cup, the festival is being staged at Museum Africa in Newtown, Johannesburg; the Irish Museum in Polokwane, Limpopo; Local History Museum in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal; and at Freedom Park in Pretoria, Gauteng.

Headliners Nomsa Mdlalose, Masoja Msiza and Gcina Mhlophe, with a host of aspirant storytellers who have been nurtured at Mdlalose's Kwesukela Storytelling Academy are filling the naturally-sedate museums with musical and rhythmic sounds, reviving an old African art form, and celebrating the myths and legends of the past, while fostering a unique inter-cultural communication tool.

In all, the storytellers are relating 30 new African and South African stories - encompassing African soccer, its heroes and heroines, myths and legends and other quirks about the game - under the theme: When People Forget, Story Remembers.

Almost concurrently, two related children's storytelling festivals will take place at Ubuntu Kraal in Soweto and on Mary Fitzgerald Square in Johannesburg between June 30 and July 4.

Sowetan and the Aggrey Klaaste Nation Building Foundation are supporting this commendable youth and community development programme.

South Africa's rich social and cultural history is contained in more than 300 museums. These range from elegant 18th century homes to caves in majestic mountain ranges, cultural villages in rural settings to sophisticated buildings in major cities, apartheid-era mementoes, artefacts and information to commemorating heroes and icons of the liberation struggles.

The flagships of these cultural sites are the country's national museums - the National Cultural History Museum and the Transvaal Museum of Natural History in Pretoria, the South African National Museum of Military History in Johannesburg, the National Museum and the Anglo-Boer War Museum in Bloemfontein, the South African Cultural History Museum in Cape Town and the newest addition - the Robben Island Museum.

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