What is oral storytelling?
Oral storytelling is compelling. By the words and gestures of the tale teller, listeners conjure up pictures from their imaginations. We experience the challenges; choose the path, save the imprisoned and the day, find our luck and true love, all the while warding off evil and taking advice from crones and hermits. At the end, we have journeyed together sharing exploits, consequences, empathy, and emotions. We will never be strangers again.
My childhood was fraught with perils. I taunted the monsters in my closet who gave up trying to scare me because it was no fun, booby-trapped the neighbourhood bully’s boxing gloves, and remained bravely left-handed when my first year Kindergarten teacher flunked me for faking it. Though cautioned that I would surely fall in, I tested the manholes on our street and threw stones in through the grates. Clearly, the adults had been over-cautious in their warnings.
I had everything my Mother had on a smaller scale: a broom and dustpan, a wringer washing machine with a handle that made it gyrate and a real wringer that I turned by hand while feeding clothes through, and an iron with which I pressed my dolls’ clothes that heated up to almost a sizzle when I tapped it with my wet finger. We worked well together, my mother and me, as she told stories about the old-fashioned way she and her mother worked together when Mum was a child.
And then at the age of 4 years, I started Kindergarten. That didn’t go very well. I flunked my first year because I coloured with my left hand but cut with scissors using my right hand so the teacher thought I was faking being left-handed. She didn’t notice that my left-handed colouring was by far more artistically creative than my right-handed colouring when I wasn’t made to sit on my hand. Second year went much better. We had a new teacher who appreciated my skills in being left and right-handed at the same time.