Traditional storytelling as an archive under threat


Dar Es Salaam, Kinondoni District, Tanzania


The contextual and historical influences on storytelling and story taking are critical features of the African oral tradition that are often ignored or minimized in African history and as a form of archive. African societies have been using stories as a form of education and a tool to impart knowledge to youngsters. After the day’s work, mostly evening children would gather around the fireplace and an elder—grandfather or grandmother—would tell a story or a riddle or sing a song with the children. Stories are the foundation of African traditional knowledge. Despite the complex and often contentious history of African storytelling, their oral traditions have not been explored to reveal the depth of their lived experiences and the way those experiences and knowledge inform the community and how it archives the society’s culture.


The purpose of this project is twofold. First, to assess primary school children’s understanding of different traditional stories and folktale. Second, to comprehensively document and digitise stories, riddles, and folktales from selected primary school children in Dar es Salaam. The study uses qualitative approach with detailed interviews and focus group discussions.

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania