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Jenny publishes books of stories from the cultures of southern Africa
Jenny is a well known collector of African traditional stories for children. Since she was a young teacher in Namibia, Jenny has explored remote areas throughout southern Africa, making recordings. She has worked with chiefs, traditional healers (‘witchdoctors’) and teachers, but most of all with children whom, she says, are often the best storytellers.
Her itinerant life as a story collector began in Namibia. The foreign imagery in the curriculum was unintelligible to the children. She quickly realised that children learn more effectively when the content of lessons is related to their own culture. And she set about recording their own stories and relating education to concepts and images that were familiar. She tried to encourage educational authorities to re-write materials in this way. Over time the stories she gathered were published and used in schools.
This beginning led to a lifetime of gathering stories. She has recorded in many communities, including Bushmen, Zulu, Xhosa, Venda, Himba and many of these stories have been published, particularly in educational and children's books.
Her work has created a valuable cultural archive in a rapidly changing world. It has also given her, and her listeners, enormous pleasure. She takes delight in re-telling these stories, and you will sense her enthusiasm as you hear her read them.
Author: Roddy Bray
Published Date: 02 Feb 2010
Location: Southern Africa | Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe
Themes: society, travel | anthropology, inspiring