In recent years we have seen a resurgence in the art or craft of story telling in the west. This at the same time as these forms are being neglected and lost in what we euphemistically call the developing world.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the Nigerian novelist (Purple Hibiscus) talks of a sense of loss because of the lack of a bridge between the dying oral traditions and the novel in Nigeria.
Michael Ondaatje (The English Patient) regards himself as coming from the oral tradition of Sri Lanka.
Perhaps a nation that is developing (from one thing into another) needs to lose as much of the old as possible in order to gain space for the new?
At first glance story telling is a performance art, like poetry, but on closer examination one has to remember that poetry is actually closer to music, which leaves story telling in the realm of theatre.
I have not been successfully initiated into this oral tradition since the days of my childhood. I love the novel and often find myself involved by poetry. There is something about the written word that stimulates me to life, that wakes me up and sets the blood coursing through my veins. But oral story-tellers just put me to sleep.
I was told that I should only watch out for the best story-tellers, that I had been subjecting myself to story-tellers without talent, without experience. So I went only to those story-tellers who were claimed to be the best.
I’ve stopped going now, because even the best ones put me to sleep. I don’t want to be told stories any more.
Am I missing something?