Growing up, my sister and I spent almost every summer with our grandmother. She didn't have cable television so my sister and I often helped out with cooking, cleaning, and gardening to keep busy. Nowadays that sounds like a list of chores but the best thing about it was that we got to spend time listening to the stories of our grandmother's life. Her stories are the reason why I feel so connected to family members I never knew and even the reason why I still make good attempts to make my bed every day; because Grandma said that's how you know you still have some sense! To this day, there are so many moments that I wish I recorded but I will forever treasure the knowledge and life lessons she shared as she told her stories.
Storytelling is an African and African American tradition that dates back to well before the 18th century when Africans were brought to America through the Slave Trade. In West Africa, the griot preserved the oral history of a tribe or village. Stories were accompanied by dances and musical patterns that would make it hard for one to forget the words. When the enslaved African was denied the ability to practice the traditions of his motherland, storytelling was often his only means of expression. To this day, storytelling may be the gift of knowing one's family history as told by another family member or a folktale a parent recites to help teach a child right from wrong. In fact, the folktale is a very common form of storytelling. One of my favorite folktales is Anansi the Spider, a story of a father and his sons. Anansi is saved from great danger by his sons but needs help deciding which son will receive his reward. Take a look at this video to see Anansi's journey. After watching, can you re-tell the names of Anansi's sons? What lessons do you notice?
"Anansi the Spider" created by DeBria Robinson of Richland Library Blythewood.