The Power of the Written Word

Storytellers included Anele Mdoda, Millie B, Lee Molefi and Vutomi Mushwana. Google them. PHOTO: Instagram

Storytellers included Anele Mdoda, Milisuthando Milli B Bongela, Lesedi Lee Molefi and Vutomi Mushwana. Google them. PHOTO: Instagram

Last week Thursday I attended the inaugural Imbawula event hosted by Random Window. As soon as I saw the poster I was super excited. They had me at “reigniting the fading art of storytelling”.

I immediately thought back to nights when my sister and I would sleep with my mother and she would tell us stories that her mother told her when she was a child.

In my mother tongue Tshivenda, our stories are referred to as Dzingano. The idea is that when the person telling the story says “Salungano Salungano”, those listening echo them and say “Salungano”. Every time there was no power we would ask for these stories and boy would we get excited. I’m convinced all we wanted to do was shout the echo. I doubt we actually listened to the stories carefully.

Nobody tells these stories anymore and I doubt I would be able to sit with my children one day and relay the stories my matriarchs told me. Storytelling doesn’t end there though. Literature is about sharing the stories we know and that was what I enjoyed so much about Imbawula.

Four people, from very different walks of life shared the simple stories that they knew. They shared beautiful stories about their own lives and  their own experiences. We laughed with them, cried with them, gasped and snapped our fingers.

It was at that moment that I remembered why I love writing. I remembered my desire to weave the words onto a page that would ignite the emotions of a reader. The feelings that we so often suppress because life keeps moving and sometimes there is just not enough time to feel. I remembered my desire to tell stories that would make people think, stories that would make people laugh and because I cry a lot I want to tell stories that will bring people to tears.

They say the pen is mightier than the sword and to some that may have become a cliché but stories are experiences and we share so many of the same experiences. It is through literature that we share the experiences we would much rather keep to ourselves or the experiences we are just not ready to share.

I encourage anyone who loves to tell and hear stories to keep their ear on the ground and attend the monthly Imbawula events. Not only did I love the encounters shared by the storytellers, but my desire to write and influence was reignited and that is priceless.




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