Opinion / 16 January 2020, 11:43am / Alex Tabisher
I will remember you. I can only attempt to emulate your dignity and courage.
Rest in peace, little brother.
My readers will remember my wish for us to treat this year as The Year of the Parent.
By this I mean that we should revisit the basic tenets that form the fabric of a healthy society.
I shall attempt to exemplify.
The term “oracy” was coined by Andrew Wilkinson in the 1960s.
He drew attention to the neglect of oral values in education.
The word refers to fluency in expression and understanding.
One form that promotes this empowered state is the folk tale.
Folk tales are usually stories about the nation told by mothers to children. They teach selflessness and appreciation of one’s own culture and that of others. I am specifically referring to African folk tales. Our history is littered with borrowings from other nations.
This is not a bad thing. But if it shoulders aside our own stories, then I am asking for a rethink.
African folk tales bind the community because it serves to unite the ancestors to the living and, further, to those who are yet to be born. Storytelling enhances cultural understanding of oneself.
It encourages us to explore other cultures. We learn to empathise with other cultures and the way in which they entrench themselves.
The exercise is one of learning because it encourages purposeful talking and discussion.
To make the connection with The Year of the Parent, we see storytelling as a family activity.
I shall now provide some tantalising exemplars.
My main resource reference will be the writing of the Nigerian literary giant, Chinua Achebe.
A child can never pay for his mother’s milk. A child who lives beside a river doesn’t need to use spit to wash his face.
If the child brings home ant-infested firewood, he must expect the lizard to follow him home.
We have a moral obligation not to ally ourselves to the powerful at the expense of the powerless.
These gems form the basis of Achebe’s writing. But the column is not about Achebe. It is about the natural material for the real life experience that is discussed, preserved and practised for social and familial cohesion.
One of the great stories in Things Fall Apart, by Achebe, is the story that explains why the tortoise has a “patched” shell.
It is my advice that parents explore home-grown tales to knit groups into units, units into societies and societies into a nation.
Follow our own writers who are tracing our forgotten truths and values. Revisit the old, such as James Matthews, Mpahlehle, Zoe Wicomb. Read the new. Zakes Mda, Ruben Richards. Write your own tales and send them to the Cape Argus. Danny showed the way.