Keeping the Tradition of African Storytelling Alive

byOctavia Utley
This curriculum unit will be implemented in a 3rd-5th grade classroom with students who have diverse learning needs and ways of learning. I intend to enhance students' knowledge and appreciation of African storytelling through West African folktales and film. The literary focus will be on animal trickster tales, which include animal tricksters with human habits, beliefs, and weaknesses. Students will be prompted to further their knowledge of African storytelling by viewing three African films, Abouna, Keita: The Heritage of the Griot, and Wend Kuuni. The three-part lesson framework will be used to teach this unit during the reading period. The three-part lesson framework consists of a mini-lesson, student work period, and sharing. This unit will begin with a series of mini lessons on traditional African storytelling, storytelling in film, and the role of the African storyteller. By analyzing and examining a variety of animal trickster tales, students will recognize the distinctive narrative elements of African folktales. Students will be challenged to think about how to begin a story, how to create powerful characters, and how to quickly move incidents to a satisfying ending. This unit will offer students an opportunity to continue the tradition of African storytelling in the classroom.

(Developed for Reading, grades 3-5; recommended for Reading, grades 3-5)

Comments (9)

    Regina James (Fairington, Lithonia, GA)
    Subject taught: , Grade: 2
    Keeping the Tradition of African Storytelling Alive
    I really like this unit. The students will be able to recall and retell African folktales. They will keep the tradition of African storytelling alive in the classroom.
    C Mae Roberson (Medgar Evers College / LIU, Brooklyn, NY)
    Subject taught: all
    story telling
    Thank you for this outline
    of how to present and what to look for
    while presenting tales that help children and adults alike recognize their global likenesses and greatness. All races can see the cultures we all share.

    What I would like to see more of are comparisons of the various exchanges ....

    I will try to connect with you once I complete reading the unit.....

    Subject taught: AFRICAN LANGUAGES AND CULTURE, Grade: 1.
    Cornelius Wambi Gulere (Uganda Christian university, Kampala, Bu)
    Subject taught: Literature, Grade: gr
    I am happy with your course and would encourage you to look out for works in Lusoga under my names to expand your area of coverage.
    Sandra L Coleman (CSUDH, Carson, CA)
    Subject taught: Africana Studies Major
    I came across this information while doing research for my thesis
    I came across this information while doing research for my thesis. This is very interesting and I am thankful to see that African traditions are being explored and taught. I pray that this type of curriculum can continue and we can appreciate our own heritage, history and culture.
    I am really glad to have found this material. This year\'s project for students who are going to sit for IGCSE is on the theme \"IDENTITY\" and \"GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES\" for which I have planned two main objectives: SELF-AWARENESS AND OTHERNESS. One of the units will be African storytelling and the book to be read will be \"Nervous Conditions\" by Tsitsi Dangarembga and at least two stories from the suggested student bibliography.
    As we are located in Argentina I am trying to contact someone who would like to share a skype interview with my students in regard to this topic.
    I am eager to expand on this subject if the opportunity arises.
    Emmanuel Chukwunenye Obiakor (Graduate, Yaba, La)
    Subject taught:
    African Cultures
    I am a freelance documentary photography based in lagos, Nigeria. I find it awesome to the level of African culture which i also learnt from while reading through the page. it is very interesting to know that our culture is taught in your institution. I would love to support the work of your institution by providing more African Cultural documented stories that will increase the resource with which you teach your students.
    Please reach me on

    Thank you
    maria teresa marichal (Colectivo Contarte, San Juan, PR)
    Subject taught: stories, Grade: al
    Love this unit
    I really love this unit. I am a storyteller and it is important to understand the history or the stories and storytelling. My students will be able to understand better the African folktales. We have a lot of African stories in our country, but we have to learn a lot. I am thankful to see that African traditions are being explored and taught.
    John Hartley Fleming (none, Kigali, Ki)
    Subject taught: none0
    Recruiting story tellers as hosts in the African Great Lakes
    With your permission, I have lifted some of your narrative for my business plan - I have referenced it: As background; we are building cruise ships to range upon the African Great Lakes in support of TRUE expeditionary safaris in the boutique luxury market. Linking the mountain gorillas of Rwanda with the Serengeti by way of Lake Victoria - as an example. A very ambitious project. Be happy to explore the hosting potential of a locally recruited storyteller as a sustainable commercial, though cultural experience, to enhance the visitor\'s experience. We will need to recruit for at least 30 locations. see (Google): KIVU QUEEN by MANTIS - this is the first, though smallest, of our 17 ships for deployment on 7 lakes in 7 countries in the next 5 years.

    We wish to embrace the essence of the 1985 movie, Out of Africa, which we credit as the very reason the African Safari industry exploded in popularity and commercial value. Visitors most often quote this movie as the experience into which they aspire to be immersed. Be good to share further, but simply a comment and appreciation for your interesting posting on this site.

Send us your comment