Retelling fairytales: Giving old stories a South African spin!
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Retelling fairytales: Giving old folk stories a South African spin!

When you hear the word “fairy tale”, what stories do you think of? We all know some fairytales, folktales, or intsomi. Whether they were home-grown here in Africa or come originally from Europe, these are the magical stories with strange, out-of-this-world characters like fairies, tokoloshes, giants, monsters, elves and witches that we love to hear and read.

Nobody knows exactly how long fairy tales have been around because they existed in their oral form long before any of them were written down, but they’ve definitely been with us for thousands of years. They’ve also moved around the world being told and reinterpreted in different ways depending on where they land!

Tell a Tale!

The thing about great fairy tales is that they last! They can be told over and over again in different ways that make them relevant for new audiences. Ntombizanele Mahobe, one of the authors of the Xhosa version of The Adventures of Pinocchio, talks about what it was like retelling this well-known story, originally from Italy, in a South African setting: “We began by reading lots of different versions of the story. We wanted our version to stay true to the heart of the original story, but we also wanted South African children to be able to recognise familiar things and places in it. We thought hard about each of the characters and what they represented in the story, and then found South African equivalents for them.”

“Throughout time, people have learned from each other through stories,” explains Carole Bloch from Nal’ibali. “We need to take the great world stories and retell them in our own way for children here at the tip of Africa. Fairytales have themes and lessons in them that are universal. When we retell them in an African setting, it is more likely that our children will connect with them.”

Bring the magic of fairytales into your home by reading them and retelling them in your own way!

In fact, Nal’ibali spoke to an inspiring young writer, who is only 12 years old, who re-created the well-known tale ‘The Gingerbread Man’ and made it her own! Read ‘The Boerewors Man’ here, written by Kiera-Lee Hayes from Cape Town!