Storytelling: an ancient tradition–its modern uses


Where in the world have I been? Telling stories, of course, near and far!

ANANSE SoundSplash 2014 Storytelling Festival & Conference, Jamaica, W.I. 

Ananse SoundSplash 2014, Jamaica, W.I. Image: Ananse SoundSplash 2014, November 19 – 24, Jamaica, W.I. an international contingent of storytellers: Amina Blackwood Meeks, Eintou Pearl Springer (Trinidad), Jan Blake (U.K.), Edgar Ortiz (Costa Rica), Michael Kerins (Scotland), Nomsa Mdlalose (South Africa), Diane Ferlatte, Djeliba Baba, The Storycrafters Jeri Burns and Barry Marshall, and Denise Valentine (U.S.).

Ntukuma, the Storytelling Foundation of Jamaica, chose the theme for Ananse SoundSplash 2014 REDISCOVER, RETELL, RENEW to honor the contributions of Rt. Excellent Marcus Mosiah Garvey in the year of the 100th Anniversary of the founding of his Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA).  An international contingent of storytellers celebrated the official proclamation of November 20th as Jamaica’s National Storytelling Day (coinciding with Universal Children’s Day) with a week of storytelling events all over the island, including at Louise Bennett Garden Theatre and Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts in Kingston, Moneague College in Saint Ann Parish, and Montego Bay Community College

Academic presentations focused on the following topics:

  • History as Legends
  • Storytelling and Reparation
  • Storytelling as Philosophy
  • Storyteller: Teacher, Entertainer, Healer
  • Ananse and Cultural Decolonization
  • Social Identity and Storytelling
  • Rediscover, Retell, Renew


Adinkra Symbols of West Africa



spider’s web, wisdom, creativity



History and Reconstruction ~  Beginning in fall 2014,  the storyteller collaborated in a project funded by the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage, with historian Phillip Seitz, William Goldsby, chair of Reconstruction Inc., and a cohort of ex-offenders to address the question: How can deep knowledge of history change lives? 

Denise introduced concepts of African and African American storytelling traditions. This provides a cultural context which the cohort could use for navigating new or difficult knowledge.  She assisted cohort members in building storytelling skills, tools and techniques needed to infuse their stories with lessons from history when communicating their experiences to the community.

The storyteller seeks to help cohort members :

  • Reclaim their ancestral names and homeland.
  • Reclaim their stories.
  • Reclaim the power and authority to speak; become the “storyholders” for themselves and their communities.
History and Reconstruction

Project Showcase: History and Reconstruction. Project storyteller Denise Valentine (center), psychologist Dr. Thomas Gordon (right), members of the cohort and friends. Photo courtesy of Phillip Seitz. (Public History Commons)

Read more at Public History Commons…


mate masie MATE MASIE wisdom, knowledge, prudence. What I hear, I keep.



Denise Valentine has been selected as the recipient of the 2014 Sankofa Research Award (SRA). FOTA assists Folk/Traditional Artists in accomplishing a research project that will enhance their work. This award will support her continuing research in family history, examining tales told generation-to-generation, collecting DNA evidence and written records. In March of 2015, she traveled to Columbia, South Carolina, home of her paternal grandparents, to unravel the complicated threads of her family’s history. Come to WHERE DOES MY STORY BEGIN? at Philadelphia Folklore Project on May 16th, as she recounts her journey to find her family’s place in the story of freedom and slavery in America. This program is presented by Linda Goss and made possible by Friends of the Artists (FOTA).


 SANKOFA “Return and get it” Learn from the past.



What’s up next?

Click here for details on WHERE DOES MY STORY BEGIN? and Upcoming Spring and Summer 2015 Performances!



 Thanks for stopping by! Your comments are welcome!

About Storymama01

Professional Storyteller, Blogger, Teaching Folk Artist, Cultural Curator, Consultant, History Lover, Humanist
This entry was posted in arts and culture, Blackstorytelling, culture and politics, education, humanities, Public History and Memory, storytelling and folklore and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Storytelling: an ancient tradition–its modern uses

  1. TAHIRA says:

    You are truly moving and working in the spirit of Jaliyah!!

  2. TAHIRA says:

    “She assisted cohort members in building storytelling skills, tools and techniques needed to infuse their stories with lessons from history when communicating their experiences to the community.” This work is exactly what NABS is aiming for with the #BlackStorytellersSpeak Project. Could you partipate in this project by sharing a story by video that points to the issues of the #BlackLivesMatterMovement?

    • Storymama01 says:

      Yes, thank you TAHIRA. I agree. I definitely will submit a video for the National Association of Black Storytellers’ #BlackStorytellersSpeak project to address this issue.

  3. Pingback: Spring / Summer 2015 Storytelling Performance Calendar | storymama01

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