Legendary South African storyteller, Gcina Mhlophe continues to educate and entertain children during the national lockdown. The talented storyteller was first exposed to storytelling when her grandmother told her tales as a young child.
She went from being a domestic worker to becoming a newsreader and then turned storytelling into a professional career. Mhlophe has since travelled around the world, appearing in theatres from Soweto to London, America, Europe and Japan, and also gives storytelling workshops.
Mhlophe joined up with tertiary institution Mancosa to produce recordings of 15 audio entertaining African stories for children. The last five stories also contain videos to go with the audio, catering for partially blind children.
The initiative came alive through Mancosa’s School of Education’s partnership with the Gcinamasiko Arts and Heritage Trust, who asked Mhlophe to keep children captivated with her iconic voice and talent for storytelling.
The storytelling series includes five-minute recordings of uniquely African stories such as How Lion Got His Roar, Queen of the Tortoises, Princess Nozizwe and the Ogre, and many others. Each story also contains an educational or inspirational message for children. The stories are available free of charge on Mancosa’s website and their social media pages.
Mancosa Director, Martha Moyo said the idea came about during the closure of schools during Level 5 of the national coronavirus lockdown.“As part of our humanitarian activities aimed at giving back to communities during the pandemic, we decided to focus on children by keeping them entertained with stories, even if only for a few minutes,” she said.
Mhlophe said she chose stories with an African theme and also focused on making sure that children were exposed to a wide vocabulary and important life lessons. “I specifically chose stories with the theme of compassion, care and love – these are the qualities that we need most while the world is battling the severe coronavirus crisis,” added Mhlophe.