Storytelling and Young People Coping with Crisis: Oral Narratives and Crisis Management in Kenya and Ethiopia

September 2022 to August 2027
Oral Literature for Development
literary expression
crisis management
oral traditions
Jimma University (Ethiopia)
University of Nairobi (Kenya)
Research fields
Arts and Architecture
Cultural Sciences
Languages and Literatures

This project takes a Communication for Development-approach, bringing in ‘Oral Literature for Development' (OL4D) as a new line of thinking in this. We introduce OL4D firmly based on the belief that Culture and Creativity are central for all people's development and on the need to consider fiction as an influential source of knowledge for development (c.f. Lewis et. al. 2008). As a team, we see huge potential in the cultural-historical ways in which people have dealt with crisis situations through their history of literary expression, but at the same time we notice that urban adolescents in Kenya and Ethiopia do not connect to this literary history when faced with crisis situations. Through performative learning procedures we aim at enabling young people to engage with living oral traditions of storytelling, thereby reflecting on the potentialities of crisis management. The overall aims of this project are: 1) (re-)valuing the potential of popular storytelling in preventing and dealing with current crisis situations, by 2) (re)connecting adolescent audiences with oral literatures, and 3) developing an educational tool for an Oral Literature for Development-approach in narrative genres. We will focus on five domains in the narratives, namely: 1) Crisis situations between men and women; 2) Othering and exclusion; 3) Poverty; 4) Disease; 5) Ecological crisis. We view these domains as interconnected, and will analyse how in popular traditions of oral storytelling, reflections on gender, othering, poverty, disease and ecology are linked to each other. We will in practice: 1) organise an interuniversity Oral Literature for Development Hub (OL4D-Hub) of MA-, PhD-students, Post-Doc, staff, and promotors; 2) engage elderly and young performers from the respective communities to offer live performances of storytelling to adolescent audiences, coupled with workshops; 3) develop an educational tool on oral storytelling and crisis management, employing various media; 4) exchange on research and education on Oral Literature for Development in a South-South-North cooperation.