The New Storytelling:We Are All Indigenous Global Citizens
Heartfulness eMagazine|November 2021
WAKANYI HOFFMAN is a Global Education Specialist and founder of the African Folktales Project. In Part 2 of her interview with SARA BUBBER, Wakanyi shares the value of storytelling, passing down wisdom through generations, her Kikuyu culture, and how we are all indigenous global citizens.
WAKANYI HOFFMAN

It makes me excited to hear that within Indian cultures there are similarities to my own Kikuyu culture. And I know this is true for my own people back in Kenya, where there are 50 to 60 tribes. Within those tribes, there are many ways in which we are interconnected, but we tend to differentiate ourselves based on something as abstract as language. When we overcome the language barrier, we discover that we’ve all intermarried.

We obviously share some of these ideas and ways of being. Ultimately, we’re all living on the same planet. We are experiencing the same changes, and the same landscape, on the whole, and we breathe

Q: A lot of change has taken place from previous times to modern times. But one thing that really stands out as central in this dialogue is storytelling. What is the role of stories in the transfer of wisdom?

That could be another session, couldn’t it? Storytelling is a living thing. It is who we are. We tell stories using all forms of communication: Through song, through dance, through nonverbal communication, we use the art of storytelling to communicate our feelings, our ideas, our fears, and our concerns. And so, the role of storytelling in communicating wisdom is central.

Children are like sponges: They are very good at receiving a story, and then interpreting it for themselves and reenacting it. Whenever I hold a storytelling session with a group of children, I will hear the story later on from another child who was not part of the group, because that story was shared. That’s clearly the way we’ve always passed down knowledge. Even in schools, whenever I speak to educators, especially teachers involved in global citizenship education, every single discipline that children are taught in school, whether it is mathematics or science or music or art, is a form of storytelling. If children imagine it as a story, there’s a lot more retention; that has been scientifically proven.

We can use any space in which human beings are gathering to tell stories.We need to open up our minds to what is available to us, and get excited that we can scale theprocess of telling storieswith these tools.

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