When I started out as a traveling thespian, I was wild with dreams of changing the world with the gospel of nonviolence. The older I grow, the more I discover my place in the web of prophetic artists who dare to dream about Utopias for African peoples all over the world.
I’ve been an artist for about 8 years.
This grant will help me hire the right people to create a professional podcast that documents rich African oral tradition while also entertaining the world.
To start a podcast dedicated to the African oral folktale experience and to publish at least one folktale that celebrates African survivalism.
With this grant, I was able to create a call for folktales about African survivalism to contest popular narratives of survivalism trending during this pandemic. From the respondents, I choose three stories that fit within the theme. I hired a professional sound engineer. I also hired a studio and organised a modern day fireplace with three different professional storytellers, an intergenerational family audience, and the recordist. I recorded the three stories and also provided a merry evening of food, storytelling, and reflections. After that, I worked with a professional editor to edit and mix the episodes.
I did research and sought the best podcast website hosting service and paid for a plan with Buzzsprout. On 7th August 2020, our first episode of Mbaganire Podcast was published and is now listed on numerous audio apps like Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and several others. It has received over 100 downloads as a single episode without paid advertising. I was also able to get a professional music producer from South Africa to create an original music theme for the podcast.
This podcast has garnered interest from so many different people and provides a digital alternative to family time that is diminishing due to modernity, especially under the present pandemic. African culture is highly oral and depends on fireplace storytelling and the transmission of information from the old to the young. During Covid-19, we have been forced to come to terms with the fact that we may never have the kind of African gatherings that our grandparents and parents had, even if ‘normalcy’ is restored.
Mbaganire Podcast comes at such a timely point to provide us with stories that can be shared with families across the world. I am in talks with an educator of the Runyakitara mother tongue who would like to feature the original language versions of the stories on a Zoom language class she is organising. The folktales will serve as points of departure for her classes as she teaches city kids their local language. This is an exciting collaboration, as it affirms the need for these stories. It is inspiring me to record the original versions as well and preserve the languages from which I am getting my stories. I will avail them to people in cities and throughout the diaspora to assist people with reconnecting with their roots.
At the beginning of this residency, I was worried that I wouldn’t find enough stories, especially for the pilot phase that sought specific stories about a particular theme. But I have found people that are walking encyclopaedias of folktales. I’m so inspired to tap into their knowledge and immortalise their wisdom for future generations. I realised early that it was going to be expensive to rent a studio for each story and pay a sound engineer for each session. At first, I was worried I would only record one session, but later I overcame this by deciding to make one long session where I could record multiple stories on the same day. This reduced costs for the studio. I was able to get a discount from the sound engineer since we could record different sessions in one day. I am very happy with the result and have got such tremendous feedback. The only lacking thing some audiences requested was the original language versions, which I’m also already planning to record.