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Story Bosso: Nal'ibali launches storytelling competition

This September, Nal’ibali is launching a nationwide storytelling competition to find South Africa’s first ‘Story Bosso’. Aimed at reawakening a love of storytelling and reading among South Africans of all ages, the competition will connect the public to ideas and inspiration on how to tell stories and read aloud to others; showcase a range of local stories (in all South African languages), as well as identify undiscovered storytellers in communities across the country.

“Storytelling is one of the greatest tools we have to develop not just our children’s curiosity and imaginations, but also their sense of empathy and belonging. Storytelling and reading aloud allow us to build connections with each other by passing on knowledge and providing a shared experience while at the same time being important building blocks of literacy learning,” comments Carole Bloch, Director of PRAESA (the Project for the Study of Alternative Education in South Africa), which is driving the Nal’ibali campaign.

Research shows that stories spark those parts of the brain concerned with imagination, emotion, sensation and movement; they create the neural circuits that ultimately enable sophisticated thinking and reasoning in young children. We also know that children who read for pleasure perform better in the classroom, not just in vocabulary and spelling, but in maths and science too. And stories are a great way to get children interested in books and reading – right from birth.

“As South Africans, we have a deep and respected history of storytelling. Those most fortunate among us will remember being enchanted as young children by the stories told to us by our gogos, parents and other family members. Stories were told to teach us lessons, instill morals and values and often, simply to entertain us. These storytelling moments stay with us throughout our lives and become some of our most cherished memories,” comments Smangele Mathebula, Nal’ibali Campaign Driver.

Yet, while we don’t all need to become professional storytellers, being a good storyteller or reader needs work. The ability to captivate and hold your audience while you weave a tale that will appeal to a varied audience and finish with flair takes practice! The Nal’ibali Story Bosso competition aims to not only seek out talented entertainers, but to highlight and share the tips and techniques that can help make everyone a better storyteller and get our children excited about books and reading.

Running throughout September (Literacy and Heritage Month), people of all ages – children, parents, caregivers, teachers, librarians – are invited to enter the competition. To do this, they must send in a video or audio clip of themselves reading or telling a story. Entries can be submitted in any South African language, and can be original stories made up by the participants, retellings of stories heard before or simply an extract from their favourite book or sample story provided by Nal’ibali.

For those unable to record clips, Nal’ibali Literacy Mentors and partner organisations will be running a series of pop-up auditions and events to source stories directly from communities nationwide. Pop-ups will also be taking place as part of National Book Week, the Jozi Book Fair, the Open Book Festival and at select Bargain Books stores. In addition, Nal’ibali will be setting up pop-up libraries at these events where people can come and collect books to take home with them, as well as story cards in a range of South African languages that have been specially produced by the campaign for parents and caregivers to enjoy with their children long after the pop-up events. A full line up of events will be available from the Nal’ibali web- and mobisite from 1 September 2015.

A host of South African celebrity judges have signed up to help select the shortlisted clips. These include actress and writer, Lebogang Mashile; founder of the South African Reading Foundation and its division ReadabookSA, Tebogo Ditshego; author and retired teacher, Sindiwe Magona; social activist and writer, Shaka Sisulu; comedian and author, Nik Rabinowitz; actress and author Bonnie Henna; children’s author, Alan Glass; new-age performance poet and singer, Busiswa and TV presenter and radio personality, Elana Afrika.

Further endorsing the drive to help and encourage South Africans to make reading and storytelling a part of everyday life, celebrity supporters include recording artist, ProVerb; writer and activist, Elinor Sisulu; broadcast journalist and radio co-anchor, Refiloe Mpakanyane, actress and singer, Zolani Mahola and judge Nik Rabinowitz – who have all recorded story clips of their own for viewing on the Nal’ibali web and mobisite.

The winner will not only receive the title of SA’s first ‘Story Bosso’ and a visit from a participating celebrity judge, they will also get a R5 000 cash prize, a R 1 000 Ackermans voucher and home library courtesy of Bargain Books, Exclusive Books and local publishers. Two runners-up will each receive R2 500 in cash, a R500 Ackermans voucher and a home library.

And to launch the month of storytelling, jazz and afro-pop singer Judith Sephuma will be collaborating with TV and radio personality, Penny Lebyane; professional storyteller, Nomsa Mdlalose, community storytellers Antoinette Sithole and Thembi Mkziwana and emceed by children’s TV personality, Karabo Bonco in a storytelling demonstration and celebration event on September 01 at Motjoli Primary School in Soweto.


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