By: Modou Touray
Some two decades and a half ago, storytelling was a significant activity in Gambian communities. The stories are mostly fiction, but they help children and youth to draw lessons of moral consciousness from them that can stimulate their maturity and build cautiousness.
Recently, a series of moonlight storytelling exercises were organised for young people of Kuloro village and other settlements in the Kombo East.
Rural Child, a grassroots organization is spearheading the activity. Its coordinator, Amadou Jallow said from their findings, storytelling is one of the fantastic ways to hold a child’s attention for a long time, saying many children in this generation find it hard to concentrate.
“Storytelling can help improve the listening skills of children. This is because they will become more attentive and learn how to increase their focus on a certain topic. In today’s generation, people are turning to the convenience provided by technology to send their children to sleep,” he said.
Mr Jallow added that storytelling may be considered a simple pleasure of childhood, but it is important for children, unfortunately, parents have little or no time to spend telling stories to their children anymore.
“We provide career guidance and counselling to children and youth and expose them to the understanding of fundamental human rights, personal health, education and the environment they live in.”
According to him, the activity also targets to promote excellence in informal education and support young people with learning aids for growth and development and redirect a positive mindset. Moonlight Storytelling used to be a popular activity in homes and communities. It is usually organised in a circular format and elders will narrate stories intended to help children to be cautious when they grow.
The officer in charge of the Youth Migration Information Centre of the West Coast Region, Miss Binta Touray believes that when parents and communities invest adequate time in narrating and sharing stories with children, they are instilling virtues they can carry as they grow old.
“Narrating stories of moral values to children can inculcate cherished lessons in children and helps them learn about kindness, wisdom, honesty and compassion,” Mrs Touray stressed.
The youth chairperson for the West Coast Region, Mr Lamin Sanneh, said nurturing children in storytelling is a positive move and expressed gratitude to the Rural Child Organization for positively moulding young people.
Mr Hassoum Ceesay, a renowned historian and Director General of the National Council for Arts and Culture when contacted for his expert opinion, highlighted that oral storytelling is significant for the younger generation.
“The Gambian history is very oral. Storytelling helps to promote the oral narrative of our culture. People write but generally, people use orality to transmit information, process information and add value to information. it can be in the form of narration of storytelling or by griots and wise saying of historians,” he pointed out.