Oral storytelling or folklore, has been a time-tested medium of preserving and passing on the customs and traditions of civilisations to posterity and the Kwaku Ananse stories of Ghana are no exception.
In the traditional African context storytelling is one of the effective ways of handing down accumulated knowledge to the youth so that they would be able to play their roles as adults.
The approach varies in every society but one objective stands tall- to teach moral values.
Not in the too distant past, our ancestors gathered in the evening by the fireside and narrated their fears, beliefs and heroism through storytelling.
The stories assigned superhuman qualities to ordinary people, thus originating the hero tale, as captured by Wikipedia. This obviously explains how important oral storytelling impact on the lives of mankind.
The importance of storytelling throughout history is evidenced by the reverence and respect afforded to storytellers.
A ninth century fictional storyteller, Scheherazade of �One thousand and one nights�, saved herself from execution by telling tales. Aegeon, a Merchant of Syracuse in Shakespeare�s �Comedy of Errors� saved himself from execution because of a good tale, which convinced Solinus, Duke of Ephesus.
Aegeon, in �Comedy of errors�, was to be executed because people of Syracuse and Ephesus were barred from entering each other�s territory. Fate decided otherwise against Aegeon as strong storm diverted a ship in which he was sailing in and found himself in Ephesus. After recounting what he had gone through in a form of story, he had his sentence reduced.
The legendary Persian Queen, Scheherazade, on the other hand used storytelling to stop the Persian King, Shahryar who had the habit of marrying virgins on daily basis and killing them soon after breaking their virginities. Scheherazade knew the consequences attached to marrying Shahryar and against her father�s wishes deliberately married him. The night before she would be killed, the king accepted to listen to a story from his mistress. Scheherazade�s story was so interesting that by the time she got to the middle of it, it was already day time and the king kept postponing her execution just to get to the end of the story.
This continued night after night until she narrated up to 1,000 stories to him. By the time the king finished listening to those stories; he had fallen in love with Scheherazade in the 1,001 night and had three sons with her.
Centuries before Scheherazade, the power of storytelling was reflected by Vyasa at the beginning of the Indian epic Mahabharata. Vyasa is quoted to have said, �If you listen carefully, at the end you�ll be someone else�.
The Ananse stories also had its unique spell on the society for its educative and informative narrations and moral lessons at the end of every tale.
in storytelling in the Akan context is a spider used as the main character. Mythological storytelling was meant to train children to remember their traditions, customs, their lineage, their history and above all to be wise or emulate the characters, not the greedy ones but the good to ensure that they grow up to be responsible citizens of the society.
Storytelling was a way of recounting the origin of ethnic groups, how some clans came to settle in certain places. In short oral storytelling was used to narrate the roots of ancestry.
The history behind the magical descending from the sky of the Golden Stool of Okomfo Anokye of Ashanti, the bravery of war legend, Yaa Asantewaa of the Akans, the mystery behind the story of the Paga friendly crocodiles amongst other important tales of the country were handed down to mankind through folklore and later translated into written tradition.
Every society or traditional setup ensures that characterisation often rallied around wise, smart, cunning and crafty animals just to make sure that the story comes alive as it is told.
Stories are being told in various forms today but what is of grave concern is the conspicuous absence of oral narration.
Various documentations define oral storytelling as an ancient tradition and the storyteller was viewed with a reverential lens and so the death of storytelling simply means the death of good morals among children.
Due to the lack of storytelling children of today speak to the elderly with contempt. They insult the elderly and those in authority in public the name of modernity, which is gradually frowning on the virtues of the good old days.
Apart from the symbol of anarchy that some of the today�s children represent, the neglect of storytelling has also deprived the country of enormous benefits, including the revenue that could be generated from oral storytelling or the arts in general if properly organised.
Due to modernity, many people in Ghana today are viewing oral storytelling with a different lens, with some regarding it as an old way of doing things.
It is undeniable fact that modern technologies such as the Internet, television and radio have replaced oral tradition.
Mr James Adabuga, Northern Regional Director of the Centre for National Culture (CNC) has observed that today�s children prefer playing computer games, games on phones and other electronic devices than to listen to fairy tales.
He said the situation has been compounded by non- existent of community centres, partisan politics and the craze by every parent to get their children into school, thereby employing teachers for extra classes, which gives no room for children to get ample time for recreation.
it is therefore important for the nation to adopt pragmatic measures that would help to reverse the trend.
Bodies like CNC, the universities and Ghana Folklore Society must be given the necessary support to revive the art of storytelling.
The Ghana Education Service must also encourage or introduce interschool competition on storytelling.
Social Studies teachers in schools across the country must be creative enough to promote storytelling for after all the dying values of storytelling is killing the bright future of Ghana.
There is also the need for vacation youth camps, which used to be organised by CNC across the country to be revived. These camps were used in teaching children vocational skills including storytelling.
Source: Caesar Abagali
|Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are those of the writers and do not reflect those of Peacefmonline.com. Peacefmonline.com accepts no responsibility legal or otherwise for their accuracy of content. Please report any inappropriate content to us, and we will evaluate it as a matter of priority.|