By THABISILE KHOMO
THE opening session of this year Storytelling Day celebration started off on a sombre mood at Windy Heights Primary School outside Isipingo in the south of Durban.
The school staff members and learners kicked off the session with a brief prayer and revisited the history of the late Zulu Monarch, King Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu and learners recited his praises as part of paying tribute to the iconic leader who made a remarkable mark in the entire African continent.
He was commended for all the significant roles he played in the society regarding land issues and education among many other things.
Delivering her speech, the school principal, Thembekile Makhanya spoke highly of the king, thanking him for being an exemplary and dedicated leader.
“We respect and honour him for everything he has done for us. We are also grateful to God for his life. As the school, we intend introducing learning programmes in line with our government schools’ curriculum that will preserve his history.
“We are raising and grooming children who should uphold and embrace our history as Africans,” she said.
On the 20th of March every year, millions of people all over the globe gather and share different stories in different languages as part of celebrating the World Storytelling Day.
Windy Heights is usually among a few South African schools that see the significance of this day. Learners usually gather and listen to their teachers telling interesting stories and folktales that help them improve their listening and oral skills. As the 20th is on Saturday this year, the school decided to host the event on Thursday and Friday, prior to the actual date.
Makhanya continued that it would be a good thing if March 12, the day on which the King passed away, be recorded in history as one of the special days so that upcoming generations will be taught about its importance to the Zulu nation.
Touching on the importance of storytelling in the lives of African children, Makhanya said, in the ancient times, this was one of the most important ways of passing down information from one generation to another.
“In Africa, we never had something called ‘bedtime stories’. So it is of utmost importance that we go back to our roots, and revive folktales. Currently as the nation we are facing a very huge crisis. The culture of reading is decaying. As a result, we are raising a number of children who cannot read and write. The only way we can root out that plague in our society is if we join hands and revive some of the important African education teaching methods like storytelling or folktales. Stories that are being told must also include our cultural history,” she said.