Storytelling yesterday, today and tomorrow

The Ulwazi Programme is mentioned in an article on the e-Learning Africa portal.

A modern interpretation of the interactivity of oral culture can be found in the rise of ‘digital storytelling’, which takes advantage of the unique qualities of recorded images, film, sound and text to explore ways in which people can find a voice through digital media.

With its origins in simple narrated slide shows or videos, digital storytelling has progressed to include fully interactive and participatory projects which embrace non-linear and experimental forms of storytelling.

What’s more, creating digital stories is widely accessible to many people, working with low-tech devices and free-to-use software. With just a mobile phone or entry-level computer, it is possible for anyone to compose, design and share their life events in a unique and engaging way. This democratised access has the potential to empower marginalised groups, giving people a public voice when before they had none.

Taking this a step further, we find projects such as the Ulwazi Programme, a community-owned database based in Durban, South Africa. The Ulwazi Programme documents and disseminates indigenous knowledge, including “traditional celebrations, traditional clothing, Zulu proverbs, traditional folk tales, the use of spiritual herbs and traditional agricultural methods”, using text, photos and film as well as through online games and an interactive ‘Heritage Map’.[iii]

As a collaborative project, compiled by local people and populated with the stories of their lives and heritage, this is a kind of participatory storytelling that would never have been possible without the use of ICT.

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