The stories are as old as the language, as old as the oldest societies. So that some of the oldest stories survive: those that were said in pictures on the walls of a cave in Lascaux, in France or in the Mpongwein Mountains of Lesotho. Others have reached us in the legends of the world and the folklore we now possess in the printed age. Storytelling is older than print, older than writing, and the first stories written on paper, papyrus or slavery are not the works of these authors but the records of oral traditions of the last centuries. In Sierra Leone as in most African countries, storytelling is an integral part of the life of the country, although oral traditions have largely been withdrawn.
We learn as we live as children, young people and adults. Learning is not limited to classroom alone: it can happen anywhere. Ethical values, social norms, beliefs and symbols must pass from generation to generation, whether or not they have been modified. Informal learning settings are relevant and may be dominant to this day when partial acquisitions are taken over more formal and specific institutions.
While Sierra Leone guards themselves against their past, both educators and librarians see much in storytelling that can serve as a basis for guiding and developing young people in the school system. There are many indications that there is an enormous wealth of traditional pedagogy in terms of principles, content, methods and institutional arrangements that still exist in Sierra Leone. The storytellers, their stories, songs, parables and puzzles are still important assets and themes of indigenous education and education. Oral traditions do not just pass the norms and norms of society. They began to explain the world and the behavior of people in it. Oral traditions provide accounts of how the world began and these mythological myths form part of the sacred books of all established world religions such as Christianity and Islam. As explained by metaphorical terms is all human behavior in which good does not always triumph over evil.
Non-literature-based stories do not rely on literacy. They can reach all the community and their interactive quality is the same, because it facilitates the functions of stories in social education, what Leson (1985) described as “passing wisdom and shared values of the country to the next generation.” Sadly, there is a missing link in Sierra Leone. Children’s schools are well known for the stories of Great Britain, the United States, Canada and Italy, to name a few, but they know very little about their traditional stories.
A story in Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone has sixteen (16) ethnic groups. The largest of these is Mende found in the southern and eastern provinces. Next to them in the number is Temani in the north. The third largest group is Limba, also in the northern province, followed by Kono in the eastern region. There is also Koranko in the north as well as Yalonga, Loko, Soso, Madingo and Vola. On the coast, north and south are Bullom and Sherbro followed by smaller groups of Krim, Vai and Gola, as well as Kissi within the Eastern Province. The western region, including Freetown, is more complex among the population, but is essentially the home of the Creole group. In all these ethnic groups, storytelling is common as part of their culture.
Both Ogoto and Roscoe (1974) have been telling stories in Africa: “The continent has its own fairy tales, the tradition of slow and steady wins the race expansion, and oral narration … the medium through which Africa has been obscuring its spirit, its people and the entertainment itself for centuries” Pp. 43-44).
Traditional stories in Sierra Leone are seen as the embodiment of beliefs, customs, rituals and community structures that need to be preserved. Stories within the community work to ensure conformity with accepted cultural norms from generation to generation through their role in education and the extent to which culture is expressed. Most traditional storytellers claim that they derive their art through dreams, spirits, and professional apprenticeship to professional storytellers. Others claim to acquire art directly from God while some say they have paid for it. Storytellers have the following features:
- Fluency in local language and mastering a wide range of vocabulary for all levels of audiences.
- Creativity and the ability to establish a relationship with their audiences;
- Knowledge of their audiences and needs.
- Knowledge and ability to return to their culture and environment to revive their stories and make them appeal to their audience;
- Good memory for precise retention and narration of a large range of materials;