Welcome to The African Folktales Project (AFP), a rich resource of indigenous wisdom and knowledge passed down from the stories of the first human civilizations. The AFP is founded on the notion that we are all ancestors of the future and the custodians of knowledge vital to our continued co-existence with our natural world. This project is a continuous dialogue about how the environmental conservation choices that we make today will impact the survival of tomorrow's civilizations on our shared planet. Through a careful selection of courses on offer, we provide access to a curated digital database of African indigenous knowledge found useful in providing holistic solutions to the challenges of achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs). We use folktales to inspire all learners and educators to re-imagine future societies that will ensure the protection and sustainability of natural environments.
An open dialogue on indigenous heritage through stories that promote sustainable development
In 2006, I left Africa and traveled the world- through Asia, North America and Europe. I became a mother and began raising my children in countries far away from the aunties and older women who would have automated the initiation into motherhood, African-style. I tried to keep a little bit of Africa inside me- through the food that I prepared, the way that I carried my babies, wrapped in slings and dangling their tiny feet beside my hips. I kept my hair braided, and always wore the brightly-coloured kanga outfits that filled my wardrobe- all of which was meant to keep me aligned with my identity as an African. But over the years, I have learned that Africa lives within, and not outside of me. It is presented in the way that I speak, the expressions that I use to convey tone and emotions, the way that I laugh, the thoughts that fill my imagination, the music that my heart responds to, and above all, the values that guide my daily parenting journey. In me lives a way of being, a philosophy that is the very essence of being African- the Ubuntu way. The continent's collective spirit of oneness is reflected in my habits, and I see myself in others that are different from me, because I see their humanity first.
I am a nomad living far from my birth home, but if there is one thing that seems to stay in my heart, unnerved by the constant changes, something I could pack up in a moment's notice and transport discretely to my next home country, it is the stories of our past. These are folktales that had been shared with me as a child, which I now share with my children and all their friends from different countries. There is never a shortage of this resource, and each story could be retold with a new twist, giving it a fresh, new angle, to suit a diverse audience. Once I fully understood this, I knew that I was onto something.
As a professionally trained journalist and a certified specialist in creative writing for children, storytelling for me is like water to fish. I dive in and come alive while relishing in all the possibilities of adventure that my mind can conjure up while engrossed in the lives of mythical or legendary characters. I have a masters in Development Education and Global Learning, which has enabled me to connect the dots between informal and formal knowledge systems to find essential knowledge that we can use to progress into happy, successful and healthy citizens of the world.
Sadly, even though my childhood stories are still as relevant today as they were more than 3 decades ago when I was a little girl growing up in Kenya, nobody is really sharing them anymore. The old story-keepers are leaving this planet with our rich heritage stored inside their minds. Meanwhile, the younger generation have new digital learning tools that have disconnected them from the older generation. It is this big gap between the young and the old that compelled me to design the AFP, a digital story-sharing platform which acts as a bridge where the old story-keepers can meet with the young to pass the baton of future storytelling.
Through this exciting process, I can hear the original storytellers coming alive in a medium that was not available in their time, which now serves a great purpose of connecting us as humans. It is an incredibly exciting time to be alive and to be able to share my ancestors' knowledge with the rest of the world.