East African Stories of Love: Challenging Perspectives

In: Storytelling: Global Reflections on Narrative


While mediums and methods of storytelling often provide a moral compass, entertain, and transmit knowledge across generations and cultures, these shared narratives can nevertheless impact negatively on place, people, and culture. This chapter outlines a project that aimed to contribute to the challenge of redirecting outsider perception (and expectation) of Africa as a monolithic place of one billion starving and dying people in desperate need of the world’s charity. Based in Tanzania and Zanzibar, the project method utilised individual and collaborative workshops as its primary focus. Participants were encouraged to invent their own characters informed by their personal, lifelong lived experiences, focusing on the subject of romantic love. And, though problematic, “love” is the universal mechanism for a positive rendering of these African stories. The workshops forming the heart of the process aimed to develop a collaborative storytelling technique that differs from the dominant imprinting of outsider expectations based on stereotypical notions of the “exotic other”. The objective was to produce a creative, though generic, and transferable model of participatory storytelling that was personally informed by those whom it sought to represent.


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