Lessons in Humanity

Africa’s storytelling goes far beyond our western concept of literature. It includes not only tales, lyrics, novels, short stories and legends – but even pictures or crushed flowers can be part of the old oral tradition. It lives on in modern storytelling and teaches us a lesson in humanity. The personal accounts of nomadic children, child soldiers and AIDS orphans have brought the tragedies of civil war and of the AIDS/HIV epidemic into the limelight. News coverage and documentaries haven’t moved the societies of the world as much as some of these personal accounts. They add force to the national and global struggle against the misuse of children as soldiers and against the AIDS epidemic. But political actions have also started up storytelling projects, such as the “memory book” project, and thus storytelling becomes a part of educating, mourning and sharing the history of generations of parents and their children.

Accounts of AIDS

!</public/images/jugend/romane/schattenseiten/maedchen_1.png(Maedchen in einer Klinik im suadlichen Afrika)!

The most prominent result of the storytelling process in form of a “memory book” is Henning Mankell’s account, “_I Die, But the Memory Lives On_(I die but the memory lives on)”:/en/youth/books/shady-sides/i-die-but-my-memory-lives-on.html The project was introduced to the Sweden writer by Plan, a child-focused international development organisation, which encouraged terminally ill parents to create a memory book for the children they leave behind. Jenny Robson wrote a kind of a crime mystery set in South Africa, “_Praise Song_(Praise Song)”:/en/youth/books/shady-sides/praise-song.html. Young Gaone investigates one day in the life of her choir mistress, Miss Diko, who was murdered after having confessed in public that she was infected with the HIV virus.  The novel goes deep into to the problem of society’s stigmatisation of the disease.

Child Soldiers

They were fighting in Uganda, Congo, Angola and Sierra Leone – child soldiers recruited by rebels, were then hopped up on drugs, and armed with modern, easy-to-use guns. UNICEF, engaged in actions against the abuse of children in war, reports that there may be as many as 300,000 child soldiers in more than fifty conflicts around the world. There are various accounts of former child soldiers, and two are outstanding because of their authenticity. These are China Keitetsi’s story, Child Soldier. Fighting For My Life, and Ishmael Beah’s account, A Long Way Gone. Memoirs of a Boy Soldier. Nigerian writer Ken Saro Wiwa told about a young boy who went to war. His novel, “_Sozaboy_(Sozaboy)”:/en/youth/books/shady-sides/sozaboy.html, is considered one of the best anti-war novels of the 20th century. The basic message of its hero, Mene, who starts out being proud to join the army, is that war is a crime against humanity.

You can find many of these books in your library.