A process of collecting the finest, most creative stories from Africa that began in 2016 will reach its climax on Saturday when an anthology of 12 tales will be launched.
The collection, titled Story Story, Story Come, will be unveiled at a storytelling festival that will be held at the Alliance Française in Nairobi.
Its makers describe the stories in the book as “reimagined folktales”.
“The stories celebrate generosity, hard work, humility, respect for children and those living with disability, and warn against corruption, greed, war, nepotism, and the obsession with fame and materialism,” says a statement from Positively African, the organisers of the event.
The editor of the anthology is Maïmouna Jallow, a Gambian storyteller based in Nairobi, while the publisher is Paivapo in East and Southern Africa co-founded by author Zukiswa Wanner.
“We wanted a collection that would speak to current issues that we face in society today. The authors of Story Story, Story Come have done so brilliantly, each in their own style and voice,” Ms Jallow says. “I describe it as a feminist, Pan-Africanist, Afro-centric collection.”
The process of creating the anthology started in 2016 with a call from arts and media company Positively African for entries from all over Africa. The firm wanted African writers to re-imagine a traditional tale. More than 100 people applied, according to the brief from the organisers.
Afterwards, a panel of judges that include Nigerian author Chuma Nwokolo, award-winning storytellers Mara Menzies and Roger Jenkins, and former director of the Caine Prize Lizzy Attree, selected the 12 best stories.
“These folktales share wisdom in a simple and memorable manner,” says the contest judge Roger Jenkins. “They are more entertaining than a sermon, more rewarding than a fable.”
The stories have also been recorded as audio books, where narrations are accompanied by music composed by legendary Afro-electro musician Franck Biyong.
During the Saturday launch, there will be performances by storytellers from Morocco, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Australia and Kenya.
“We will also be are premiering The Door of (No) Return — a performance adaptation of some of the stories in the anthology,” says Positively African.
The festival will run on Saturday December 15 at Alliance Francaise Nairobi. Doors open at 9am.