About the Project

Stories are created by being told. In telling narratives, stories are invented, passed on, changed and adapted. They wander through the world, are passed from person to person and easily transcend boundaries.

The audience, in turn, participates in the story-telling process through its reactions to the narrative. This tradition of performing narratives remains strong in many countries in sub-Saharan Africa and has been recently revitalised in the form of spoken word. The spoken word scene is highly active and artistically extremely exciting, yet remains sparsely documented and hardly connected beyond national boundaries.

 Mpho Khosi, Julian Heun – King Kong in Johannesburg © Goethe-Institut. Photo: Gitte Zschoch  All Artists Johannesburg © Goethe-Institut. Photo: Gitte Zschoch

Participants at the Johannesburg kick-off event. 24.05.2013

The goal: to capture performances and connect artists

All performances were recorded on film, while an independent jury critiqued the entries and awarded three winners. Their contributions were uploaded onto this website. The project then moved to the next city, Antananarivo in Madagascar. Here, the artists watched the videos from Johannesburg and then included one element from one of those narratives in their own performances. Over the course of the year 2013, this pattern continues throughout the next six cities: Yaoundé (Cameroon), Luanda (Angola), Kampala (Uganda), Nairobi (Kenya), Bamako (Mali), and Abidjan (Ivory Coast).

The core: a multidimensional narrative

The transfer of this element from one artist to the next, from one place to the next constitutes the core of this project. A common thread is created, thus weaving a greater, interlinked, branched out, multi-dimensional and therefore non-hierarchical narrative – metaphor for the creation and dissemination of traditional stories, and hence for storytelling itself.

We invite you to join the journey! Click on the map of Africa to find the videos, follow the stories from city to city, check out the participating artists, read about the diverse landscape of spoken word all over Africa, and follow us on Facebook.