Storytelling in Zambia – there are different kinds of stories and different ways to tell stories

Ruth HartleyBooks, Writing, Writing Process, Zambia0 Comments

The Nowhere Man and citizens of the world

The Fab Fopur stand to the right of a rainbow-coloured shape while the blue faced Nowhere Man dnces. He has red llips and pink ears and tail

John, Paul, George and Ringo and the Nowhere Man from the film Yellow Submarine

Those of us who think of ourselves as citizens of the world have found that politicians don’t much like us. They call us citizens of Nowhere and it seems that that makes us a problem. Is this because we cross boundaries and borders? Is it because we are travellers and migrants who come and go? It may be that we stay in one place all our lives but still travel in spirit and imagination. Is that also bad? For those who want to control us and tell us what to think and where to live, are world citizens dangerous deviants?

A divided world, people in search of identity and communication

A prince in a fur hat and coat stands on his magic carpet next to a glowing lantern. It is twilight as he flies over a river so high that there are birds flying below him

A Russian Prince on a Flying carpet

Of course it’s fine to see yourself as a citizen of the world – you may feel equal to everyone you meet, but does it work the other way around? Suppose you have to fight for your rights and to assert your own identity – suppose you are resisting racism or escaping oppression or struggling against inequality – how does that feel? Do writers from new nations feel that they are sidelined by the dominant culture of English-speaking writers? We all have individual needs and unique ways of expressing ourselves, so is the big question how do we understand ourselves and how we communicate with each other? My previous posts have discussed making art and writing as a white person and what that means for me.

Open a book and read a story to travel to new worlds

$ huge books lean against a wall. A small figure opens the cover of the nearest on to see light pour out of it

Reading books opens doors

A book is a doorway and a magic carpet to adventure. I was delighted when last week’s post had so many responses and there were so many books suggested by my readers – thank you all very much – it means a great deal to have a rewarding conversation across the continents that divide us. I am going to try to list some of the suggestions you made on the last post. What I noticed was that many of the books about Zambia were valuable books of information, or of history, or of beautiful photos. I also noticed that  a large proportion were written by white Africans and I wondered if that matters and why it happens. So many of the Zambians I know are exceptionally good artists who also make music, dance and perform. There is a strong tradition of oral storytelling but I haven’t yet seen many written stories and I wonder what forms they would take. I expect that it is happening now. Perhaps I am just looking in the wrong places.

 

Research on Zambian Literature by Dr Ranka Primovac

I discovered Ranka Primovac 3 years ago and I am very pleased to link to her work here. It  is well worth exploring to find out more about Zambian writers. What I think I noticed in her work was that most Zambian writers are men and they write about women! Maybe it’s time for more support and workshops for writers in Zambia?

 Dr Kenneth Kaunda, First President of Zambia – Zambia shall be Free, Letter to my Children, A Humanist in Africa

David Pownall African Horse, The Raining Tree War

Timothy Holmes Journey to Livingstone: Exploration of an Imperial Myth

Peter Dickinson AK

David Wallace Jesus Z Christ

Vernon Mwaanga An Extraordinary Life

Norman Carr Kakuli

Alexandra Fuller Scribbling the Cat

There will be omissions, for which I apologise – please add any into the Comments below – I would be grateful.

 

 

 

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