Wangari the Storyteller par Excellence
Grace Wangari has told stories as far as Sweden, Iran and Tanzania. Everyone in her circles fondly refers to her as Wangari the Storyteller, and you’d understand why when you experience her setting platforms alight with stories knitted in the past yet dressed for the present.
She is one of the foremost narrators in Kenya who have pursued storytelling as a profession, both in its performed and written forms.
A prodigy of Zamaleo Sigana Storytellers, which organises the annual Sigana International Storytelling Festival, Wangari has managed to create her own brand and become a favourite act for international and local schools, corporates, and family function organisers.
The first memorable experience I had of her in action was during a storytelling event at a restaurant in Westlands. The simple and dramatic way in which the stories were brought to life reminded me of my grandmother, (I will write about her one day). I immediately got hooked to this oral tradition and wouldn’t miss the Sigana Festival that would follow a few months later. The festival would be an amalgamation of artists from as far as Korea, Uganda, USA, Sweden, among other countries, with renditions of stories we might have only read in books, giving them life with vivid dramatization, catapulting us back in time, yet at the same time provoking our sense of appreciation of the present.
Performance for children
What makes Wangari a most-sought artist for children functions is how she has created interactive, educative, and entertaining sessions. Due to the demand, she has put together a Family Time Out in collaboration with the Nairobi Museum where parents and children have an educative fun filled experience in an informal setting.
The significance of storytelling in daily life cannot be over emphasized. Apart from the entertainment, stories teach and dare our minds to deal with daily challenges. One of the stories that follows her book The Forever Tree, a favourite for children, is all about the importance of inculcating listening skills and following instructions. You watch in amazement as amidst the entertainment, she travels with her young audience through a fantasy story where there is a stake at the end of the journey, but winning is only possible if you are keen, have superb listening skills, and can follow simple instructions. The young enthusiastic audiences actively follow and take part in the story with the aim of getting to the finish and ultimately getting the prize.
More and more people are realising how important storytelling helps mould minds into imaginative vessels. Many parents and teachers in schools where she has performed have observed that with such interactions, learners have not only improved their ability to think, but also follow instructions, read storybooks for pleasure, and express themselves confidently.
This August 11, 2018, she will be holding the third edition of, Time Out with Wangari at the Nairobi Museum. The sessions at the Nairobi Museum, which happen once every two months, have grown into family sessions that bring out the best in parent – child interaction. Children watch their fathers dance, parents watch as
children do amazing crafts work as they learn from each other and sometimes work in groups even though they have just met for the first time. The Nairobi Museum, on its part organises education tours within. During the first Family Time Out with Wangari, the attendees visited the Snake Park, while the second session involved learning about the insect kingdom. The third session this August 11, 2018 will see the attendees learn about the bird kingdom. For more information on Storytelling sessions and bookings, reach out to Wangari on her website HERE.