MORE than just story telling

POCKET DYNAMO: Nomsa Mdlalose. Pic. Bongai Mnguni. 04/12/2001. © Sowetan.
POCKET DYNAMO: Nomsa Mdlalose. Pic. Bongai Mnguni. 04/12/2001. © Sowetan.

STORYTELLING pocket dynamo Nomsa Mdlalose, who is overseeing the 2010 Kwesukela Storytelling Festival at four museums in Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, is on a unique creative arts crusade.

STORYTELLING pocket dynamo Nomsa Mdlalose, who is overseeing the 2010 Kwesukela Storytelling Festival at four museums in Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, is on a unique creative arts crusade.

She wants to see adults, youths and children improving their understanding of storytelling as a social communication tool. She wrote in a recent dispatch of the Soka Gakkai International Quarterly: "People think of storytelling as a form of entertainment for children, but I think it's more necessary for adults.

"I see the form as a way of passing on morals and values, and it's my belief that children have more of those than adults," she wrote.

Mdlalose cut her teeth in versatile performer Gcina Mhlophe's Zanendaba Storytelling Organisation. She hopes to plant that developmental seed through the National Lotteries Distribution Trust Fund-backed Kwesukela Storytelling Festival. The event is taking place for the duration of the 2010 Fifa Soccer World Cup 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.

Significantly, 24 emerging storytellers will narrate through singing, dancing, drumming, drama and poetry 30 new African and South African stories. These encompass African soccer, its heroes and heroines, myths and legends and other quirks about the game under the theme: When People Forget, Story Remembers.

Mdlalose is a Buddist and embraces Nichiren Buddhism, commonly described as a dynamic philosophy grounded in the realities of daily life. The religion was inspired by Nichiren, a 13th century Buddhist reformer, who based his teachings on the Lotus Sutra and its core message of the dignity of all life.

To show her seriousness in making storytelling a widely accessible learning and teaching tool, Mdlalose, who holds a masters degree in storytelling and is studying towards a PhD in folklore, is using her talent and skill as a trainer, performer and storyteller to run lectures, workshops and seminars for university students and other professionals. This is as a part of her Kwesukela Storytelling Academy.

Mdlalose wants storytelling to be a tertiary education subject in South Africa. The academy is a start in that direction.

She told Sowetan this week that storytelling has a role in every aspect of people's daily lives and goes beyond entertainment because it encourages group interaction, conflict resolution and the learning of different languages.

In between teaching storytelling at the University of Johannesburg and University of the Witwatersrand, Mdlalose is perfecting a launch plan for her academy.

"We always tend to undermine what we have, like storytelling as an indigenous communication tool, while forgetting that we can revive its relevance and ensure that it does not die by repackaging it as we are doing through the festival," she says.

Mdlalose says children are invited - and they should bring along their older siblings, parents and other guardians - to the two Kwesukela Children's Storytelling Festivals. This event is organised by Art Bouquet on Mary Fitzgerald Square in Johannesburg on June 30 and on the Walter Sisulu Square in Kliptown, Soweto on July 4.

l Sowetan is the festival's media, publicity and nation-building partner and has made the project a part of the youth and community development activities of the Aggrey Klaaste Nation Building Foundation.

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