Whatever happened to the good old days? The days children cheerfully gathered under trees to listen to good old didactic tales and danced to rich cultural tunes? Have they been blown away with the fierce wind of technology and the memories, wrapped up and tucked away with the evolution in modern communication?
Maybe not exactly, the days may have gone but the memories of our past remain and in fact are renewed each day. Thanks to the well-meaning Africans who have sworn to preserve the African history and rich culture through the art of storytelling.
Elizabeth Kperrun is one such African who has taken up the hard task to amalgamate the African culture with the ever evolving technology. She decided to adapt African folk tales to the 21st century by focusing on children’s stories that teach moral lessons.
The Nigerian born techpreneur and fashion designer developed AfroTalez, a mobile application, to preserve some of the stories she was told as a child in eastern Benue state, Nigeria. Elizabeth is a firm believer in the potency of good storytelling and its ability to influence the lives of children.
“Sometimes, you can’t teach a child something by telling the child, ‘Don’t do this.’ But in the context of a story, a child can learn that somebody stole something and then something bad happened to them. Alternatively, someone did something good and they ended up really happy or really rich.” She explains.
With the help of her older relatives, Elizabeth gathers didactic Tiv stories, which she narrates in her own voice as “Aunty Liz.” She is also responsible for writing the scripts, while her husband and business partner, Idamiebi Ilamina-Eremie, manages the animation.
“I want to keep it centered around folk stories,” she says. “I don’t want the popular ones that, let’s say, Walt Disney has made really popular. … I think it’s only fair and respectful that we keep certain cultures alive, because most of the folk stories are part of the tapestry that keeps cultures together.”
AfroTalez is designed for children between the ages of 2 to 10 and is available for Android users and can be downloaded for free from the Google Play store. So far, the app has more than 50,000 users.
Like most startups, AfroTalez’s main challenge is that of funding. To tackle this problem, the ingenious entrepreneur made a resolution to undertake a crowd funding campaign. She also has plans to include folk tales from other parts of Nigeria in various indigenous languages.
“Africa is our home, I think we are so in a rush to become Western that we are forgetting things that are really important, things that should be passed on of who we are, and I don’t think that’s right.”
In 2014, Elizabeth was featured on the Nigerian “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” Television game show, where she won the sum of 1 million naira.
Elizabeth Kperrun has found a way to brighten her corner. Find your corner and let your light shine.
Quotes culled from Voice of America.