Meet The Storyteller: Episode 2
Storyteller: Githanda Githae
Whats your story?
I am Teacher, Oral Storyteller, Performer and Writer. I am also the pioneer of creating storytelling programs in Independent schools as a way to foster our culture and heritage. I have been telling stories for over a decade. I do solo storytelling and do wear African print costumes. My audience cuts across all ages, the youngest that I have performed to was less than a month old and the oldest was 101!
I share my stories in all mediums be it festivals, radio and television children programmes, schools, symposiums, seminars, higher education institutions and Universities, residential and care homes, etc. I have also created:
- An online syllabus dubbed ‘Writing for The African Child!
- A storytelling series with 6 stories under the title ‘Cucu, Babu&FumoHadithis’
- Short stories ‘Liberty’, ‘Seasons’, ‘The Dance of Warriors’ , ‘The Little Slave’ and ‘Kenyan Actors’
How did you get in to storytelling?
Storytelling for me started way back when I was a child, listening to stories told by my grandmother. It carried on all the way to primary and senior schools where I participated in various narrative competitions.
My grandmother shared with us a lot of stories by the fireplace and that is what sparked an interest into the world of storytelling. In school, this art of storytelling was shared in classrooms and beyond. We even had an examinable section in English literature that covered Oral Literature and we had to research different stories and present them. Oral literature is part of the secondary and university syllabus. Part of the requirement in these classes is for students to collect folklore from their parents and grandparents. I continued with this art of storytelling till to date.
I believe that folklore is an important part of our heritage and culture. The stories I tell stories teach morals, educate, illustrate, enlighten, inform, persuade, stimulate and inspire. Therefore storytelling is integrated into everyday life. I also do it to preserve and conserve our heritage of orature as it is quickly dying at this modern times.
What is your creative muse?
I find my inspiration in so many places and spaces. I am inspired by nature and its colours, exercise,reading, looking at different people having a conversation while going on with their daily chores (take a scenario of the market place for example), inspired by peoples problems, jealousy, love, hate in their day to day……the list is endless. For example listening to other peoples stories of their everyday life just clicks my imagination to a different level. The way they salt or sugar coat their words and form them into scenarios, having the different characters who drive their story and how well they use their facial and body expressions tells it all.
I am also inspired by reading biographies and memoirs, be it past or present. They uplift my creativity and make me want to mould their oral life using different forms be it music or the spoken word.
But most of all, I draw inspiration from my two children, Fumo and Gikeno. As I watch them grow, I get a spark to question ‘what is the meaning of life?’ ‘What will be there for their generation?’ ‘What will inspire them in life?’
How has your storytelling journey been?
I am ever telling, sharing, researching and yearning for more stories.
- Using my stories to aid and boost the level of literacy in education
- Creating and solving problems through storytelling
- Researching and conceptualising new stories for early years pupils to unlock their imagination
- Connecting with individuals to encourage storytelling
- Challenging school curriculum on new inventions to partake oral storytelling as part of learning and acquiring basic life skills.
The challenges that I have come across are similar to the same challenges that we encounter in our stories.
- Oral storytelling facing competition from different mediums of recordings be it audio or visual
- Sustaining a stable income
What key skills do you feel are a must-have for a performance storyteller?
One must have exemplary communication, listening and improvisation skills. You must also be able to unlock and use your imagination. And don’t forget to inject some enthusiasm and passion in your telling!
If you were not a storyteller, what would you have wanted to be?
Not wanted to be, but still be a farmer storyteller, a teacher storyteller, the unsung hero storyteller, the African storyteller. I AM A STORYTELLER by birth, a gift that was bestowed to me.
Do not Disturb – Creativity in Process!
What tips would you give someone who wants to take Performance Storytelling as a career?
# Create and write stories
# Your voice is needed! Discover it, develop it and share it through orature
# Find a home for your story. The home shall be cherished for generations to come!
# Network with storytelling groups, societies etc
# Always document and archive your work
# Ask yourself what problems you would like to solve through storytelling
Please share with us, the top five items in your bucket list.
- To create 54 stories of the 54 African countries
- To be a pioneer in opening the 1st Performance and Communication Academy in East and Central Africa
- To tour all 54 African countries and share my wealth of stories
- To publish a series of storytelling books
- To inspire the next generation of oral storytellers and ensure that storytelling will be part of our schools curriculum as a subject
Stories are like mirrors, you only see in them what you have inside of you!’
Githanda Githae can be reached on: www. githandasonofgithae.com
Facebook page: Githanda Son of Githae
Githanda Githae, or GG as he is sometimes fondly called) is not only an artist I respect but has also been one of my main motivations in the arts. He indeed is a pathbreaker in his own right