African Storytellers Know the FUNdamentals of Learning

Providence Journal (Providence, RI), January 20, 2005


The seventh annual Funda Fest: A Celebration of Black Storytelling is under way. It began Tuesday in schools around Rhode Island and continues tomorrow through Sunday with public performances in a variety of venues, from Woonsocket to Providence, and in New Bedford.

In all, there will be six events featuring nine storytellers, some from the sponsoring Rhode Island Black Storytellers organization, some from elsewhere in the country.

“Rhythm and music and even dance are very much a part of African storytelling,” says Valerie Tutson, co-founder of the Black Storytellers and director of the Funda Fest. “Storytelling is a base of so many cultural expressions, and it’s very interactive.”

Funda, which means “to teach and to learn” in Zulu, presents an array of storytelling styles.

“Oftentimes you must do something,” Tutson says. “I think of it more as a dialogue than a monologue. But that’s not to say there aren’t stories where you just sit and listen.”

These public performances follow four days of providing a total of 26 storytelling shows in area schools. Tomorrow evening’s show in Woonsocket will include a dozen young storytellers, ages 7 to 11, who have been participating in the Black Storytellers’ after-school storytelling program.


Subjects Covered: diversity training, education, storytelling festivals

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