While some storytelling traditions have died out, others continue. However, with the role and position of the tellers, and their basic means of livelihood eroded, their numbers have drastically dwindled. The loss is ours. In the Mali, Guinea and the Gambia, the jalis or griots were and are the community’s historians, with skills to draw a village or people closer – one known way is by “giving them courage” through the short stories orally delivered.
Of recent the world over, people are recognizing the power of storytelling and story-sharing in different arenas of life, and actively working to revive it. And some of the indicators of this revival take surprising forms. In Peshawar’s Qissa Khwani, the Storyteller’s Bazaar, professional storytellers recited ballads and tales of war and love to traders and soldiers crowding its many tea-shops each evening. Today, the place is known by the same name, but is full of traffic, shops and noise, with no tellers in sight. Still, in this busy market, storytelling recordings in the form of tapes and compact discs sell briskly, helping listeners to remember the past and tellers to find new audiences.
In the Jemaa el-Fna Square in Marrakesh, you can still find a teller or a halaka who recounts ancient stories handed down from generation to generation. A friend tells me, “Our young Moroccans would rather get their stories from TV soaps than listen to storyteller – much less become one themselves.”
Only six years ago there used to be around 20 or more halakis in the square, and now he finds barely half a dozen – and they are all very old. UNESCO has worked to try to save the stories as part of world’s oral heritage, even recording some of them on the internet, so modern technology may yet come to the rescue of these wondrous tales.
There is a good difference between a story teller and our Grand Mother. Story teller is always a professional whereas the stories by Grand Mother always intend for the betterment of their grand children.
Be Happy – Your Grand Mother’s Stories are Your Wealth.