Writing about the story telling tradition in a limited area of the northern region of Malawi may seem far-fetched. Malawi is a small, poor country lying at the southern tip of the East African Rift Valley. The majority of people in the Western Developed World have never heard of this landlocked country in subequatorial Africa, commonly referred to by Malawians as “the warm heart of Africa.” (Catholic Relief Services, 2007, pp. 7-9). The few that are aware of its existence are international aid workers and some courageous eco-tourists crisscrossing the country by bike. One cannot ignore the dire poverty of the people, especially in the northern area, caused by disease, famine, unemployment, lack of infrastructure – most of what people in developed countries take for granted.
The rich story telling tradition stands in stark contradiction to this pervasive deprivation in Northern Malawi. Amidst the struggle of two thirds of Malawians to meet basic livelihood needs flourishes this centuries-old African tradition. It comes to life in the court yards of the villages, the summer huts, the homes of uncles, aunts, grandparents – men and women of all walks of life: farmers, traveling merchants, shop keepers, housewives, teachers, chiefs, or village elders. Even in the shelter of a mango, blue gum, or malina tree, stories surface as part of a community-based nursery/kindergarten education and nutrition program or a primary school lesson. In general, there is reluctance to share the stories with strangers. Only by pleading his/her special case is a newcomer invited to join the local audience.
(2008). Tradition of African Story Telling: Oral Literature in the Homes and Schools (Pre-School/Kindergarten) of Northern Malawi. .