Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Adam Navis. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.
We begin today’s program with a story.
Kwesuka sukela – once upon a time – there lived a woman named Manzandaba and her husband Zenzele. They lived in a traditional home in a small Zulu village. At night they sat around their open fire with their many children. “Mama” the children cried. “Sifuna izindaba! We want stories! Tell us some stories, mother!” Manzandaba would think and think. But she and Zenzele did not know any stories. They asked their neighbors, but their neighbors did not know any stories. They listened to the wind. But the wind did not know any stories. There were no stories anywhere.
Can you imagine a world without stories? This story we just began is a story from the Zulu people of Southern Africa. It is a well-known imaginary story. It tells how all stories began. In the story, stories were a gift to a mother long ago.
Stories are important to every culture in the world. They are a way to entertain us, teach us, preserve our culture, and to help us make good choices. Around the world, people celebrate the telling of stories on World Storytelling Day in the month of March. So today, we will celebrate this day with you! Today’s Spotlight is on stories. First, we continue the story of Manzandaba.
Manzandaba did not know any stories. So, she kissed her husband and children goodbye and left her home to find some stories. Manzandaba decided to ask every animal she met if they knew any stories. She asked each animal. Some were kind, but some were not kind at all. Some of the animals lied to her and said they had stories they would not share. Other animals tried to help her by giving advice. But none of the animals had any stories for Manzandaba.
Finally, a big sea turtle offered to take Manzandaba to the Spirit People under the sea. She held onto the turtle’s shell very tightly until she reached the very bottom of the ocean. The Spirit People agreed to give Manzandaba stories if she would give them a picture of her home on the dry land. Manzandaba gave them the picture. They gave her a large, beautiful shell. They told her “Whenever you want a story, just hold this shell to your ear and you will have one!” When Manzandaba returned to land, her children asked her:
“Sifuna izindaba! We want stories! Tell us some stories, mother!” Manzandaba sat down on the shore. She held the shell to her ear, and she began: Kwesuka sukela…
And this is how stories began.
World Storytelling day is not just a celebration of good stories. It is a celebration of the art of storytelling. Throughout history there have been many famous storytellers. William Shakespeare. Rabindranath Tagore. Aesop. Nasreddin Hodja. These are all famous storytellers from around the world. They make stories with interesting characters and wonderful events.
But some storytellers use stories to teach good advice or give a moral lesson. Even simple stories can have big lessons. Usually these stories are called fables. This is the story of the Wise Old Man.
In a village, there was a very old man. Every day, people came to the old man complaining about the same problems. One day the old man told them a joke. Everyone laughed and laughed. After a few minutes, the old man told them the joke again. A few of the people smiled. The old man told them the joke a third time. This time, no one laughed at all.
The old man told them: “You cannot laugh at the same joke over and over. So, why are you always crying about the same problem?”
In this story, the wise old man tries to teach people a lesson. Worrying and complaining cannot solve any problems. It will only waste your time and energy.
Our final story also has a moral meaning behind it. It comes from Nigeria. This is the story of The Two-Colored Coat.
Two boys were great friends. They promised they would remain friends forever. When they got older, they built their houses opposite each other. A small path formed a border between their two farms.
One day a trickster came from the village. He decided to play a trick on the friends. He clothed himself in a two color coat. One side of the coat was red. And the other side was blue. The trickster walked along the narrow path between the houses of the friends. The two men were working opposite each other in their fields. The trickster made noise as he passed. He wanted to make sure each man looked up and saw him passing.
At the end of the day, one friend said to the other:
“Did you see that man today with his beautiful red coat?”
“Do you mean the blue coat?” The other replied.
“No. His coat was red. I saw the man clearly as he walked between us!” said the first.
“You are wrong!” said the other man. “I saw it too. And it was blue!”
“I know what I saw!” said the first man. “The coat was red!”
“You do not know anything!” the second man replied angrily. “It was blue!”
The two men argued over and over. They insulted each other. And then, they began beating each other!
The trickster returned. He watched the two fighting men. He listened to their shouts. “Our friendship is over!”
The trickster laughed. And he showed them his two-colored coat. The men were angry! They shouted:
“We have lived side by side all our lives – like brothers! Now you have started a war between us!”
The trickster replied,
“Do not blame me for the fight. Both of you are wrong. And both of you are right. What each one saw was true. You are fighting because you only looked at my coat from your own side of the path. You did not think there was another way of looking at the situation.”
Simple stories can have deep truths. They can show us life in a different way. They can teach us how to live. They are one of the most ancient traditions surviving today. Think about a story that you have learned from. Is it an old story or a new one?
What is your favorite story? Do you enjoy telling stories? Tell us what you think. You can leave a comment on our website. Or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find us on Facebook and YouTube.
The writer of this program was Liz Waid. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United Kingdom and the United States. All stories were adapted for this program. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.spotlightenglish.com. This program is called “World Stories to Help You Learn”.
What is your favorite story? Do you like telling stories?