Creating Impact with African Stories

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. — Maya Angelou

In December 2014, my team showcased a few of Genii Games’ African stories to children at a local community in Lagos, Nigeria. It was an amazing experience where dozens of children turned up to watch our African stories projected on the large screen. Afterwards, I could tell the children were inspired going by the direct feedback from them.

One thing that struck me was the surprising look on the children’s faces watching a locally produced cartoon story with an African context. It sparked my concern for what I saw as a generation of children unaware that the ingredients of these visually appealing African stories — ideas, skills, talents, tools, and contexts — lay at their disposal. Worse still, these children were at the risk of growing up with little or no say in how their narratives are told. From conceptualization through production to eventual outputs like anything we see on Disney, Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network, these children needed to be inspired to know they could develop the same and share with the world.

Genii Games’ Story Showcase at Arobadade Community in Bariga, Lagos

Tempted to ask why anyone should care about storytelling? In other words, where it fits in the grand scheme of issues bedeviling us as a society? In an age and society where we are regularly confronted with the downsides of not taking responsibilities for our narratives, the answer to the foregoing questions become obvious; everyone! Our individual stories are our narratives, hence we should all care. Our lives when reconstructed are a sequence of stories with never-ending plots. The elements that shape these African stories are all around us. The tools and knowledge for developing these stories have been democratized and available for all. Lastly, the relativity of stories translates to impact on lives. One that is best tested when shared.

So, how do we get people to share their stories? Where do we start? Who better than children and what better way than to inspire and motivate these children.

Think about what a child who’s already scribbling on paper or playacting before his or her peers can gain from knowing the invaluable application of his/her skills to the contents consumed daily via different media. Animated series like Genii Games’ African story apps require creative talents among children and who better to do it than kids themselves. Empowerment is inspiration. Thus, inspiring them forms the cradle of what’ll become of their narratives and skills.

Convinced, we decided as a team we’d take our African stories to these children.

We extended our Digital Storytelling Workshop where we work with children to develop story apps and videos around their ideas to include showcases of African stories to children in primary schools. And so, 2 weeks ago, we wrote to dozens of private primary schools across Lagos asking for a chance to showcase Genii Games’ African story apps for FREE. Yes, all we simply asked for were permission, space and about 30 minutes of the school’s extra curricular time. Response? Well, let’s just say, they’re taking their time so we await them patiently :D

Moving on, we approached the local government education authority close to our office with a similar proposition for public primary schools under its supervision. We didn’t have to do much; brief explanation then one of us brought out his phone, launched one of our mobile African story apps and the education district head got it! “Wow, this will inspire the kids!”, he sounded out. In less than 2 weeks, we secured permission and presently have an expression of interest from a different local government even before starting out in Yaba. Awesome! OneDot Photography also agreed to partner to make it a great experience for all.

Next steps…

Agreed, our children need to be inspired to see that they can be all they want to be. The Genii Games team is testament to what is possible even on this turf. It helps to make this African story showcase experience count for them.

We have about 60 Public Primary Schools in this locality alone and we are determined to share our stories with them. It would be great to make it an impactful experience for the children so let’s do this. Thanks to OneDot Photography for throwing in their early support.

Want to get involved? Please reach out.