I come from a family of storytellers.
Most families have a storyteller or two. Folks all gather around to listen and to learn from them. It’s through the art of storytelling that messages are carried through generations. Every nation and culture have storytellers whose stories have helped shape and steer their country’s narrative . The ability to tell a compelling and memorable story is the best way to ensure its longevity. Good stories live long lives.
Any child will tell you they love story time.
I was fortunate to have a Mother who read to me from a young age. My Mom was a nursing sister that worked nightshift and slept during the day. Before she would go to sleep, I would lie with her, and she would read me a story. I remember lying on her chest and listening to her voice as she read. When I got to school-going age, story time was the highlight of my day. Many of the teachers who taught English and Afrikaans throughout my school years were great storytellers .
There are few better ways of communicating than through dialogue. Storytelling helps to start the conversation with a set point of departure. It is only once we have found common ground that we can begin to understand each other’s point of view. With so much hatred and discrimination between people that are different, tolerance and kindness are absent . Listening and sharing stories about each other could help replace that indifference with compassion and love .
South Africa has had a long line of great storytellers over the last century. Our county’s heritage and culture are so rich and diverse, but many of us have never heard or read any of it. We were introduced to the stories of our own culture but not that of the other people that make up the country. The Rainbow Nation has 11 official languages: Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Pedi, Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, and Zulu .
Each with their own story.
We are coming to the end of June-Pride Month. People in the LGBTQ+ community live in fear of losing their life. The hatred is on display in the murders across the country. Each day brings another chance to be victimized and treated with injustice. The lack of understanding from the straight community pushes us further apart. Listening to their stories and narrative will help to understand. Through understanding, we will find tolerance, compassion, and kindness.
Great storytellers abound in our country. But our diverse, shared history needs to be re-told. Each culture and community know and understands their story, but not how it fits in with the others. If we are to live lives that are a true reflection of the country, we must share in each other’s story. Nothing happens in isolation, no one is an island. Our shared story should be our guide to being more human towards each other. Through our shared humanity we become one.
Stories help us to share who we are and state our place in the world. Sharing stories is how we learn and grow in understanding and tolerance. Cave drawings prove we’ve been storytellers since the dawn of time. Stories help us to keep a record of the past. Maybe it’s time we use them to shape a better future for everyone.
Have an awesome weekend and please be generous! 😄
As always, thanks for reading 🙏
Originally published at https://www.leapfirst.co.za on June 25, 2021.