Issue #: 
October 12, 2011

In this issue of The Soul Beat:

Storytelling in the context of social change offers a way for people to share their experiences and gives a personal perspective on development issues. This issue of The Soul Beat features programme experiences, strategic thinking documents, and resources about storytelling for change in Africa. The stories are about migration, refugees, gender-based violence, maternal health, HIV/AIDS, and human rights and are recorded and shared using a variety of communication media such as video and film, radio, print, and the visual and performance arts.

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1. Don’t Keep It To Yourself! Digital Storytelling with South African Youth
By Amber Reed and Amy Hill
This article, published on Seminar.Net, reviews the successes and challenges of a digital storytelling project initiated by Sonke Gender Justice Network and the Center for Digital Storytelling's Silence Speaks programme in Eastern Cape, South Africa in 2008. The two organisations worked with a group of rural youth to produce eight digital stories by young Xhosa people to capture the challenges they face and their hopes for the future. The article discusses the process of creating the stories, as well as a school-based screening. It outlines how the participatory media production method known as digital storytelling has been taken up in numerous community, health, educational, and academic settings. According to the article, thoughtfully designed digital storytelling offers both a psychological outlet and a tool for community education and social activism with marginalised youth.

2. Community Video for Social Change: A Toolkit
By Lauren Goodsmith and Angela Acosta
This toolkit, published by the American Refugee Committee and Communication for Change in 2011, is a guide to planning and implementing participatory video activities in conflict-affected settings, with a focus on gender-based violence prevention and response, harmful practices, HIV/AIDS, and related health issues. The first part of the toolkit outlines practices and approaches related to using community video for social change, including steps for planning and designing a community video project, as well as implementation, ongoing support, and ways of integrating community video activities into broader work within an organisation or programme. The second part provides detailed session descriptions, exercises, and support materials for a two-week training workshop.

3. Where the Water Meets the Sky - Documentary - Zambia
This documentary film, which was produced by the Campaign for Female Education (Camfed), documents a workshop held by Camfed that involved teaching a group of 23 women about how to make a film as a way to speak out about their lives and challenge local traditions. According to Camfed, many of the women involved could not read or write, and few had been exposed to film or television. The film portrays the workshop process, as well as the stories of the women involved, focusing on one particular young woman, an 18-year old orphan, Penelop, and her struggle to provide for herself and her siblings in the wake of her parents' deaths. Ultimately, the film goes beyond documenting the workshop process and telling Penelop's story, and becomes a journey in empowerment.

4. Bringing Back Dignity: Women Confront Fistula in Ethiopia
Produced by EngenderHealth under the ACQUIRE (Access, Quality, and Use in Reproductive Health) Project and funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Bringing Back Dignity is a documentary film designed to raise awareness about obstetric fistula. Three video excerpts from the documentary are available online. These three videos tell the stories of Tihun, Yeserash, and Abebu - three young women from Ethiopia who have survived obstetric fistula. The women and their family members give insight into the difficulties of life with fistula, the joys of being repaired, and the lessons learned from their experiences.

5. A Country for My Daughter: Film and Discussion Guide
By Shumirai Magwada
Produced by Community Media Trust in 2010, A Country For My Daughter features Nonkosi Khumalo, chairperson of the Treatment Action Campaign, a human rights activist, and mother who doesn’t want her daughter to grow up in a world of violence. In the film, Khumalo travels around the country investigating the stories of women whose court cases have transformed the law in South Africa for the better. The cases range from rape within a family to holding the Minister of Safety and Security liable. Through these stories, Nonkosi Khumalo learns of the laws available to protect South African women and how they can be used. The film also highlights the gap between South Africa's good legislation and the real experiences of women living in the country.

6. Digital Stories by Disabled People
According to the Secretariat of the African Decade of Persons with Disabilities (SADPD), in Africa persons with disabilities continue to face barriers that prevent them from participating as equals in society. To raise awareness of this issue, SADPD produced a series of digital stories of and with persons with disabilities, which portray the real life challenges and successes of parents of children with disabilities and youth with disabilities to claim their rights. The stories were made in South Africa at a workshop with participants from South Africa, Senegal, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, and Mozambique, and were made by the storytellers themselves in their own voices.

7. Digital Stories in Rural Senegal - Senegal
CyberSmart Africa uses digital storytelling as a method to gain the initial confidence and support of parents and community leaders, extending traditional storytelling customs through the process of digital storytelling is a way of introducing 21st century learning. The project's learning objectives were to: assist students to work collaboratively with one another to complete a project; sharpen writing, creative thinking, and self-directed learning skills; learn to use multimedia tools; and communicate with other students internationally. CyberSmart's first initiative ran for 3 weeks, during which 20 students learned how to use simple video and still cameras and to write and record narration.

8. Obstetric Fistula Digital Stories Facilitator’s Guide

Published by Fistula Care, this facilitator’s guide accompanies a series of digital stories, called Learn from my Story, made by and about 11 Ugandan women who share their stories about how fistula has affected their lives. The guide is designed to help those who wish to have conversations about fistula and to educate groups such as health care providers, women with fistula, community members, and policy makers. It includes discussion questions and key messages for each story. The stories recount hardships and celebrate achievements related to their daily struggles with pregnancy, loss, and relationships, as well as their search for safety, acceptance, and dignity.



9. Chenicheni Nchiti? (What is Real?) - Malawi
Produced by Johns Hopkins University's Center for Communication Programs (JHU/CCP) under the Bridge II Project, Chenicheni Nchiti? (What is Real?) is a five-year radio programme that showcases real-life stories of Malawians to provide information and promote open discussion about HIV. By offering interviews of well-known Malawians, airing reports from community-based correspondents, and taking polls of average citizens, the programme works to address HIV/AIDS issues such as multiple concurrent partnerships, male circumcision, risk reduction, positive prevention, and treatment. In producing each segment, the radio programme's topics are outlined in advance, but the stories aren't planned; they are told spontaneously on buses, in bars, or in village markets.

10. Passo a Passo: Nossa Estórias (Step by Step: Our Stories) - Mozambique

Launched in August 2010, Passo a Passo: Nossa Estórias (Step by Step: Our Stories) is a series of digital stories and radio testimonials about landmines. Implemented and produced by CMFD (Community Media for Development) Productions for World Without Mines in Mozambique, the objective of this project was to provide an opportunity for those most affected by landmines to tell their stories through participatory workshops, and to raise awareness about continuing challenges. The stories were distributed to organisations and community radio stations in Mozambique.



Soul Beat Africa is interested in ALL projects, research documents, materials, events and support opportunities related to communication for development in Africa. However, more specifically, we would like to expand our knowledge sharing in the following areas:

  • Media and science reporting in Africa
  • Alcohol and drug abuse 
  • Malaria
  • Cancer and diabetes

Please send your information to


11. Survival Stories Project - South Africa
The Survival Stories Project documents the lives of refugees from war-torn African countries who are living in Cape Town, South Africa. An initiative of the Human Rights Media Centre (HMRC), this project began with a book published in 2002, and has since included radio programmes, a public mural, and a video documentary. In 2011, HMRC is revisiting the original storytellers to update the book. According to HRMC, building trust was complicated because refugees have had many terrible experiences. Many participants felt a sense of relief from sharing their stories and recounting their experiences.

12. Queer Malawi
By Patricia Watson
This book, published by Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action (GALA) and the Centre for the Development of People (CEDEP) in 2010, offers portraits of the lives of gay men and women in Malawi. The accounts in the book portray the joys of love and the heartache of rejection, the dangers posed by homophobia and hatred in communities, as well as the comfort of close friends and relatives. According to the publishers, the twelve life stories are "intended to invoke compassion and support for the rights of African lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people to live freely and harmoniously alongside their heterosexual counterparts in Malawi and beyond her borders."

13. Teenage Tata: Voices of Young Fathers in South Africa
By Sharlene Swartz and Arvin Bhana
Published by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC Press) in 2009, Teenage Tata: Voices of Young Fathers in South Africa was produced to provide a fresh and in-depth portrait of impoverished young South African men who became fathers while teenagers. According to the publishers, it provides space for their articulate and impassioned voices to be heard amidst the outcry against the absence of fathers, and offers insights into young fathers’ personal, emotional, financial, and cultural struggles as they come to terms with fatherhood. The study highlights young fathers’ strong sense of responsibility; poignant accounts of emotional engagement with their children and the women in their lives; the motivating power of young fathers’ own absent fathers on their parenting intentions; their desire for sex- and relationship-education from male family members, and their clear recognition of the help they need.



14. LubutoMentoring Programme - Zambia
Launched in September 2009 by the Lubuto Library Project (LLP), LubutoMentoring is a programme for orphans and vulnerable children that combines group discussion with storytelling, which LLP says is a traditional way to pass down values and connect children to their roots and society. In partnership with Project Concern International, Zambian sociologist and motivational speaker Dr. Lawrence Mukuka designed this programme of counselling, mentoring, and encouraging traditional values, tailored specifically to the needs of OVC and youth served by Lubuto Libraries in Zambia.

15. ARROW (Art: A Resource for Reconciliation Over the World) South Africa
ARROW South Africa is an arts-based peace project working with secondary school learners to promote peace, tolerance, and conflict resolution. As part of the project, organisers workshopped the storytelling production "Enlightening Lightening", which was performed to learners of all ages as well as the community. Another ongoing project "Playing for Peace" builds on the previous peace art work and is based on an oral history methodology using indigenous games as a springboard. Youth engage with creative means of intra- and interpersonal conflict transformation with the emphasis on interdependence and intercultural knowledge and contact.

16. Circle of Love: Schools Programme - South Africa
Launched in 2008, Circle of Love is a schools project of the International Union of Puppetry South Africa (UNIMASA). Using puppetry, visual theatre, and storytelling, the project works to help young people develop leadership skills, confidence, and social awareness through creativity, as well as build a sense of community, address spatial integration, and harness diversity. In 2010–2011, the COL Task Team is working with 2 identified schools based in the City of Cape Town. As well as holding performances at the schools, the Circle of Love works to address the need for integration through shared learning opportunities using virtual and physical platforms for storytelling. Stories are captured and shared through video, photography, and the written and spoken word.

17. Hotel Yeoville - South Africa
Launched in February 2010, Hotel Yeoville is an online community and public art project based in South Africa that works to address themes of forced migration and the threat of xenophobia. By using the internet as a diasporic hub, the project allows migrant communities to share information and experiences, providing a space for mutually supporting social networks. Implemented by Johannesburg-based artist Terry Kurgan and the Forced Migration Studies Programme at the University of the Witwatersrand, Hotel Yeoville had a physical space at the Yeoville library in 2010, where visitors could take photos, write stories, make a short film that could be uploaded to You Tube, map their roots and journeys, and contribute content to the website.


Related previous issues of The Soul Beat include:

Film and Video for Development

Power of Personal Narrative

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