What it is, what it was, what it will be.

Activities & Play, african, design, idea, Ken Wilson-Max, publishing

Academically speaking, an oral history is not intended to present a final, verified, or “objective” narrative of events, or a comprehensive history of a place, because it is a primary source of information. Its a spoken account, reflects personal opinion offered by the narrator, and as such it is subjective.

IMG_0987

Oral histories are often used together with other sources to gain understanding and insight into history.

Non academically speaking, you get a better feel for an event if it is told to you. It can compensate for dry factual accounts or statistical information. Oral testimony becomes oral history from one generation to the next It is the memory of the past spoken to the next generation.

Professor Phillip Bonner, head of the History Workshop Research Group at the University of the Witwatersrand (WITS University) in South Africa and National Research Foundation Chair for “Local Histories, Present Realities” has conducted research in South Africa, Swaziland, and Mozambique.

“…Many societies in Africa have traditionally been shaped by oral rather than written communication; the literacy rate is often low. Colonialism, Apartheid and other forms of oppression reinforced this tendency throughout the continent, resulting in a lack of written documentation about the past. Historians thus had to find other ways of gathering historical information, and oral history methods have proven to be a very useful tool in their research efforts.”

Oral history predates written history in Africa (some of the most ancient historical texts are drawn from oral testimony). But it was only used in African historical research from the 1960s. Prior to that, there were huge gaps in African history books.

brain-2Sure, human memory is unreliable in certain contexts. So the method was initially greeted with a great deal of scepticism. But for African cultures, the word was the history, so they had ways of remembering the important points, something which western scholars seem to have ignored.

Nowadays, people like Professor Bonner hold “live history interviews,” where people are encouraged to speak about their lives from the time they remember being a person. The idea sounds deliciously inviting. In the professor’s experience, asking open questions that don’t presume a specific answer and listening to the interviewee more than asking questions yields the most useful, and sometimes even surprising information.

microphone37But live history interviews take time and aren’t cheap, especially transcription and translation of interviews. But they are reliable when added to a pool of collective memory and with a few quality control methods applied. A common truth can be found.

It is all part of one rich historical narrative, told from different perspectives.

I grew up hearing stories from elders, something which sticks with me more than the history books I have read. But I know that using both methods is probably the best way to understand and get an accurate picture of a story, a history. It is another way to feel the lasting effect of an event from long ago.

In my studio I have been developing a way to tell stories through reading out loud. Its very exciting to have finally succeeded in producing a book that instructs the reader how to tell the story within. And it was deceptively straightforward. I am hoping it will be the backbone of major new series in 2019.

I love books, but I love stories even more.

Check to the Goethe Insitute article on Oral history

 

Chicken Newspaper Summer 2104 Issue

Activities & Play, design, idea

We’ve invented a new job title. It echoes how we feel about the chicken newspaper project and tells all that this is more than just a project.

That title is Proud Publisher

Being the Proud Publisher of chicken! newspaper for children means that we have to deliver the best publication that we are able to assemble. Our pride is at stake!

The digital version of the chicken newspaper summer issue  is now live.

The printed issue is on its way and will be in schools in a few days.

There’s pride and excitement in our studio and no space for much else this weekend, so let me know of you like what you see.

Pop Up Festival Weekend

Activities & Play, african, design, Events, illustration

It was great to be entertaining children this weekend. Exhausting (felt that afterwards) but really, really enjoyable. Our next event is in July in London. It promises to be bigger and better, but it will have a hard time toping this one! We had Sarwat Chadda and Zena Edwards, Julia Golding, Ed Vere with a Jazz band, Sylvia Cohen, Manja Stojic, Chris Mould and his Emporium, Jane Ray, James Mayhew, Sarah Dyer, Storyteller Rich Sylvester, Kayo Chingonyi and Usifu Jalloh. In short there was something for all age groups. Plus we had fantastic sets built by the Royal opera hOuse and its amazing team of local volunteers.

For more information, visit http://www.pop-up.org.uk

Pop Up 2014 in Essex

Activities & Play, african, Events

May 3 is the second Pop Up Festival. This time it’s in Purfleet, Essex. Here’s a layout of the venue, and the schedule for the day. The exciting line up includes Jane Ray, Sarwat Chadda, Julia Golding, Kayo Chingonyi, Sita Bamchari, Ed Vere, Chris Mould, Jane Ray, James Mayhew, Sarah Dyer, Rich Mayhew and yours truly.

This will be fun!

 

Site Map Purfleet w. Meeting Point

 

Festival Schedule for Visitors-1

Ken Robinson: How Schools Kill Creativity

Activities & Play, design, illustration

Sir Ken Robinson makes an entertaining and profoundly moving case for creating an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) creativity.

Creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson challenges the way we’re educating our children. He champions a radical rethink of our school systems, to cultivate creativity and acknowledge multiple types of intelligence.