Traditional Stories in Sierra Leone: What Purpose for Librarians?

Traditional Stories in Sierra Leone: What Purpose for Librarians?


Tales are as outdated as language, as outdated as the earliest societies. A several of the earliest stories even endure: individuals advised in pictorial form on walls of cave in Lascaux, in France or in the Mpongweni Mountains in Lesotho. And other individuals have arrive down to us in the world’s myths and folklore to which we now have access on the printed age. Storytelling is older than printing, more mature than writing, and the first tales to be established down on paper, papyrus or parchment ended up not the perform of these authors but documents of the oral traditions of earlier generations. In Sierra Leone as it is in most African international locations storytelling is an integral portion of the country’s existence despite the fact that oral traditions have incredibly mostly yielded to the penned term.

We learn as we are living when we are kids, youthful persons and adults. Mastering is not confined to the classroom by itself: it can just take position everywhere. Ethical values and social norms, beliefs and codes have to be transmitted from era to the future, whether modified or not. Informal learning settings are applicable and may be dominant even now when a lot more formalized and unique establishments have partly taken around.

When Sierra Leoneans guard themselves from their earlier each educationists and librarians see a whole lot in storytelling that could be made use of as foundation to orient and build the young in the school program. There are quite a few indications that an enormous richness of common pedagogy in respect to the rules, contents, solutions and institutional arrangements existed and continue to exist in Sierra Leone. Tale tellers, their stories and tunes, proverbs and riddles are nonetheless significant belongings and subjects for indigenous mastering and schooling. Oral traditions do not only go the mores and expectations of a culture. They established out to make clear the planet and behaviour of the folks in it. Oral traditions present accounts of how the earth began and these development myths are portion also of the Holy Textbooks of all the world’s extensive-set up religions such as Christianity and Islam. Also discussed in allegorical terms is all human conduct in which excellent does not normally triumph over evil.

Tales which do not count on literature in change do not rely on literacy. They can reach all of the community and their interactive top quality is alone energy, for it facilitates the features of tales in social instruction, what Leeson (1985) termed “passing on the country’s shared knowledge and values to the upcoming technology.” Regrettably there is a missing hyperlink in Sierra Leone as faculty heading kids are nicely acquainted with the tales of Terrific Britain, the United States of The usa, Canada and Italy to cite a number of illustrations but know incredibly little about their common tales.


Sierra Leone comprises sixteen (16) ethnic teams. The largest of these is the Mende discovered in the Southern and Japanese Provinces. Subsequent to them in number is the Temne in the North. The 3rd premier group is the Limba, also in the Northern Province, adopted by the Kono in the Eastern Province. There is also the Koranko in the North as very well as the Yalunka, Loko, Soso, Madingo and Fula. On the coastline, North and South are the Bullom and Sherbro followed by the substantially smaller teams of Krim, Vai and Gola, with the Kissi further inland in the Eastern Province. The Western Place, which include Freetown, is additional mixed in inhabitants, but is basically the household of the Creole group. In all these ethnic groups storytelling is prevalent as aspect of their lifestyle.

Ogutu and Roscoe (1974) experienced this to say about storytelling in Africa: “The continent has its very own fiction traditions it has the custom of storytelling, narrated orally… the medium as a result of which Africa down the hundreds of years has bared its soul, taught its people today and entertained itself” (pp. 43-44).

Standard stories in Sierra Leone are perceived as embodiment of the beliefs, customs, rituals and structures of modern society that have to have to be managed. Stories function inside of modern society to insure conformity to the acknowledged cultural norms of continuity from technology to generation through their function in training and the extent to which they mirror tradition. Most conventional storytellers assert to derive their art via desires, spirits, and apprenticeship to qualified storytellers some others declare to purchase the art directly from God even though some say they paid to obtain it. Storytellers possess the pursuing features:

• Fluency in the nearby language and mastery of a large vary of vocabulary for all ranges of audiences
• Creativeness and skill to set up rapport with their audiences
• Knowledge of their audiences and their needs
• Familiarity with and capability to refer to their lifestyle and natural environment to enliven their tales and make them attraction to their audience
• Excellent memory of precise retention and narration of a massive corpus of substance and
• Candour.

The contents of regular stories can be grouped into:

• Myths-tales tinted with religion, superstition and classic beliefs especially about the origins of mankind and phenomena
• Legends-stories about historic gatherings and unforgettable individuals this sort of as war heroes, exceptional medication adult men and migration
• Fiction-imaginary tales categorized into allegory, fables, fantasy and parables.

These can be even further labeled by social functionality or establishment specifically:

• Political tales-tales about leadership and the marriage between leaders and their subjects
• Tribe tales-these expose the structures, people and communities i.e. marriage and genealogies
• Religion and deities-stories about development and phenomena this kind of as death and rain
• Moral virtues-tales supposed to deride this kind of vices as delight, greed, thievery, murder, dishonesty, foolishness and deficiency of perception
• Economics-tales that offer with do the job, borrowing and lending, industriousness and laziness.

Characters in standard standard Sierra Leonean tales assortment from folks to animals, stones, trees, vegetation, deities, spirits and birds. These figures are symbolic: Bra rabbit- trickery tortoise-knowledge elephant-nobility vulture-tolerance lion-bravery and power sparrow, parrot and crow-intelligence dove-excellent fortune spider-cunning. Stories are explained to purely for night entertainments. From time to time storytelling sessions could be any time of the day with audiences in private verandahs, ‘court barries’ or other public locations. Even so, the standard placing in which twenty to forty people today sit with each other about a kerosene lamp or fire at evening following a day’s operate is completed and food has been cooked and eaten. Storytellers are also invited to cultural social features such as weddings, burials, secret modern society celebrations and crowning ceremonies. Tobacco is normally supplied for without having cigarette smoking storytelling concepts will not circulation.

Stories go collectively with tracks a track commences off a story an critical line in a story will make up a new tale a proverb ends a story a music in the center of a tale is applied to wake up listeners or to put together for the coming climax. Quite frequently music do invite participation, and listeners develop into lively supporters of a chorus, clapping their hands, reaching to lies and jokes of the story teller, who in turn solutions the comments generally with an additional story. Tracks are backed by the beating of conventional musical instruments like ‘kaylain’, ‘sira’ ‘seigureh’ and ‘sangba’ (neighborhood drum) to add rhythm. Story telling viewers is generally lively. It catalyses the narratives by spontaneous exclamations, questions to the narrator, echoing of the narrator’s voice, and becoming a member of in the singing of choruses. For all these to consider place self-discipline is maintained. The audience is produced to snicker and exclaim but without having jeopardizing the continuation of the narration.

SOCIAL Functions OF Regular Stories

Foremost is socialization. The telling and listening of tales is a social activity that delivers individuals together to share in artistic and creative affair. The event is meant to entertain so that men and women could forget about the drudgery of day-to-day lifetime. People are transplanted to a world of make-perception. As the narration goes through the nuances of recreating the fictional globe the audience is carried along like passengers on a flight. The enjoyment derived is facilitated by the social corporation of the audience. The ambiance is commonly informal with no coercion or harassment every person is on equivalent footing regardless of gender and age.

Contributors have a prospect to narrate and pay attention. The situation underscores the worth of social cooperation. The self-discipline inherent in the narration is inevitably remodeled to spheres of life. Members master to regard many others, respect private distinctions in capabilities and temperament and be equipped to relate in a widespread exercise.

Mental stimulation is derived from storytelling. Tales are instructed and received by means of the ear. The desire they place on the narrator is to try to remember the story and inform it for a feasible retelling in future. This is excellent coaching for the memory. A single has to be attentive to get the necessities of a tale and assimilate it into repertoire. So the mind have to be very active to accommodate the new understanding or kinds of what is presently regarded. As nicely as training of memory the narratives sharpen essential appreciation. Just one has to inquest the concept of the narrative and evaluates the events relevant.

Tales are not just instructed for their individual sake but have vital pieces of social instruction to impart. The allegories of gatherings and people replicate on human existence and are a resource of learning. In the characters of stories the audience will see laziness, sages, cowards, agitators and the arrogant to cite but a several illustrations. Tales give hints as to how to react to them. The narratives give suggestions on what is cherishable. In other words and phrases they search for to change life.

Stories are cultural data. The culture of a folks is the totality of their methods of daily life which contain faith, beliefs, customs, practices, new music, literature, attitudes, and philosophy. By remaining didactic stories existing to individuals the philosophical essence of the society. The contents of oral traditions epitomize the foundations of that team. The tales of faith, development and supernatural give the religious foundations of that group. Biographies and historic tales present the mundane landmarks in what is the society now. Via the standard heroes, persons enjoy what the modern society admires.


Tales are loaded in tradition and a beneficial heritage which are the country’s source of oral literature. Storytelling is like heritage: it reveals the earlier, educates the existing and throws lights on the long term. Stories contact the soul of modern society and jolt them into an consciousness of their situation. In Sierra Leone nevertheless these treasures of oral tradition are in threat of remaining disdained, neglected and buried. By selling the collection and publication of these oral sources of information school librarians will not only lead to a worthwhile revival of fascination in a hitherto neglected subject but will guarantee that posterity will derive utmost gains from this sort of an endeavour.

Sierra Leone is, in political parlance, a relatively new condition pursuing a ten years-extensive civil war (1991-2001). Recording tales and which include these in the faculty curriculum could obtain remedies to the country’s complications of non-integration. Just as the country’s National Dance Troupe more than the several years progressed into a household national ensemble so will recording conventional stories current a much less heterogeneous origin and believe a actually nationwide and homogenous character.

Classic tales train ethical lessons popular to all the ethnic teams in Sierra Leone. Sir Winston Wilson as soon as noticed that the additional back we seem into the previous, the much more into the potential we can see. Recording standard stories could enable Sierra Leoneans to glance back again to their earlier with a see to observing into their foreseeable future. Apart from, educational facilities along with general public libraries are the most well-known spots to tell stories to kids. The style of viewers determines the variety of story to be advised. For instance kids from ages three to five appreciate stories about animals and about children on their own. Whilst school-age youngsters go in for extended stories. Junior Significant University pupils like myths and epics. They are fascinated by heroes and appreciate adventure and romance.

The correct to study one’s very own globe is an critical portion of the suitable to find out. Tales and music are the media as a result of which Sierra Leoneans have been to go to their young children the traditions, customs, lifestyle and oral background of their society. Indigenous literature nevertheless is needed to reduce the literate person from becoming alienated from his have lifestyle and tradition. It strengthens the appreciation of one’s personal cultural values and cultural id in a swiftly altering atmosphere. In Sierra Leone the place for a very long time instruction has been based on guides that relate to other cultures this is extremely crucial. Like all over the place else in the world the awareness of people’s cultural heritage is also a prerequisite for the continuity, cohesion and progress of their modern society. Around and over all the rich oral traditions of Sierra Leoneans with their diverse languages can effortlessly get lost with the propagation of modern suggests of conversation, if not preserved.


Libraries are the gatekeepers to the entire world of information and facts and know-how. Kinnell (1992) opined that Fantastic libraries empower. Making use of their sources can unfetter our creativity, disclose hitherto unrealized worlds endorse knowledge induce satisfaction make us chuckle insights obstacle our misconceptions assuage fears prick our conscience influence our sensibilities and give skilled refreshment. “What we find out from superior textbooks and other sources come to be part of us”(p.5).

Libraries are the neutral grounds on which the person youngster may expand via impartial and unhindered discovery. They are areas to discover and exercise data competencies. Libraries give sources of information and facts for young folks, enabling them to uncover and use the energy of access that facts capabilities can carry in the society of right now and that of tomorrow. Amonoo and Azubuike (2003) opined that libraries are catalysts for human progress as they aid the development and transmission of knowledge and society, and foster civic awareness in assistance of democracy. Libraries protect and promote cultural heritage and variety, and foster mutual comprehension and regard for cultures and peoples. For Johnson (2013) “great university and university libraries can enhance the instructional experience, motivate examining and fostering the essential considering that learners will call for to endure and prosper in an increasingly intricate modern society”(p.295).

An advantage that libraries love is that they are centrally put in just communities. As these types of they are properly put to satisfy a role as cultural centers. They are organic locations for the marketing of literature which includes poetry, drama, prose and storytelling. They also provide location for visible arts and songs. In addition they are cultural centers in the correct sense of the word, highlighting nearby culture and equipped to spotlight the tradition of kids representing the various teams within just the group.

Le Roux (2005) averred that the school library is nothing at all less than the conscience of the curriculum. Educational facilities libraries present appropriate and up-to-date components and products and services for training staff members and pupils to support the curriculum. Implicitly the selection so produced need to be one that reflects not only the recognised desires of users but also predicted requirements of future academics and pupils. By presenting their end users with a consultant selection of children’s literature libraries could stimulate teachers and pupils alike to develop imaginative use of storytelling components that could be passed on to pupils in subsequent years.

Provision and advertising of services presupposes a understanding and knowledge of the entire world within just which young children reside on a world, nationwide and foundation. Little ones can derive from libraries satisfaction of story knowledge, of language, and of involved art. The assets of the library may foster information of a wider world and an knowledge of other men and women with regard to habits, tradition, or scenarios (Johnson,2013). Young children can obtain self-awareness by means of relating to circumstances, activities and characters. Libraries can present for children’s information and facts wants. Good companies may well help to engender confidence in the acquisition of vocabulary, speech and language. Libraries provide opportunities for shared working experience involving older people and kids. Central to the philosophy of library provision for younger people is to help formal and informal schooling.

School libraries are communication centers. They constitute an ideal suggests of disseminating / information. Their reason is to aid accessibility to the clientele they provide to the instruments of awareness to guide their cultural and experienced advancement (Wehmeyer, 2005). In the long run this purpose is affiliated with the mental advancement of pupils and their attitudes toward conditions of all sorts, moral, mental, social, realistic and recreational.


Conventional tales are areas of peoples’ indigenous know-how methods and looking at their social capabilities in modern society there is every single require for these to be preserved. The simple fact in the main is that substantially of the artwork of storytelling is owned by grown ups most of whom are increasing aged and dying. And in Africa for instance when an old human being dies it is believed that a library is burnt. This is where school librarians really should occur in to participate in a very important position. Common storytelling is an inexplicable phenomenon of Sierra Leonean daily life and is indispensable for upcoming improvement. Already ways have been undertaken by some corporations like Companions in Grownup Instruction (PEA), the Division of Background and African Scientific studies and the Division of Extra-Mural Scientific studies (DEMS) at Fourah Bay Faculty to report some regular stories, songs, proverbs and riddles for future use. School librarians should really be aspect of these efforts by recording traditional stories making use of typical info and interaction systems these types of as telecommunications (cellular telephones), desktops, microfiche, and audiovisual technologies( e.g. cassette recorders, slides, online video tapes, tape recorders and CD-ROMs) to history, repackage and disseminate tales for their intended audiences. Supplied the great importance of internet technological know-how in information accumulating and dissemination librarians can also report tales in website OPACs so that academics, pupils, and scientists can read various tales as perfectly as biographies of renowned story tellers in the nation (Kochtanek and Mathews, 2002).

Further school librarians really should be transcribing and publishing tales into booklets and anthologies for use in colleges. Such initiatives will lead to the modest inventory of penned materials in the country readily available for colleges, youths and even grownups. Translating conventional tales into numerous languages will lead to intercultural understanding in the place. By these attempts the country’s cultures would turn out to be the material of learning and even the form by getting it from its roots.

As common stories and music are dwelling in specified contexts rudiments of these could be introduced in pics: village everyday living, arts and crafts, landscapes, peoples and vacation routes. Central in all these efforts will be images of story tellers and their audiences, dancers and artists. The visible impressions designed by photographs will additional strengthen children’s knowing and interest in faculty. Story telling classes should really not only be filmed / videoed but librarians need to compile biographies of storytellers for use in schools. This kind of strides will enrich children’s expertise of the several ethnic groups in the place and could go a very long way in lessening illiteracy.

In school librarians must advocate for amplified slots for storytelling on the time table. They really should also lobby for the introduction of regular storytelling up to Junior Secondary College level as areas of Literature. Little ones ought to be introduced to the library for particular storytelling sessions so that they could not neglect their tradition. Parents and Storytellers must be invited to narrate tales in school for the advantage of small children. This sort of attempts have to have collaboration with issue teachers who much better comprehend the requirements of pupils and the curriculum. Faculty librarians should really also manage backlinks with general public libraries and close by educational facilities in their regions. Youngsters should be taken on stop by to public libraries inside their localities where storytelling classes could be held. In all these moves college librarians need to have extensive know-how of storytelling appropriate for the varied desires and ranges of pupils in their respective educational facilities. One-way links must also be produced with tertiary institutions and organizations engaged in grownup literacy which are previously associated in classic storytelling actions as portion of their curricula. Lecturers and animators could be invited to university to chat to small children about the significance of classic storytelling and even convey to stories for the gain of pupils and lecturers. There are neighborhood radios stations all above the place and educational institutions can get air time to maintain discussions on storytelling. If probable storytellers really should be invited to this sort of talks to be both interviewed or notify tales. In truth the national broadcaster, the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Cooperation (SLBC) could engage in a primary position in this way by developing at minimum a slot in its weekly applications for storytelling.

The university librarians, to be productive, require to be in a position to “offer” the artwork of storytelling in the very same way other opponents for children “offer” their wares. They really should arrange Book Months with storytelling periods integrated in the routines to be carried out in these types of Weeks. Through these types of classes storytellers and mother or father could be invited to explain to tales to young children. Academics, dad and mom and more mature pupils must be encouraged to write and study stories to the younger types. They must also clearly show movie clips or slides/musical versions of renowned regular stories.


A well utilized school library encourages studying, raises accomplishment and enhances pupils’ personalized and social improvement. It is an asset to the school, both in terms of physical means and the wider methods in the course of the university it will harness for the reward of its consumers (The Library Affiliation (1998). Invariably, traditional tales have passed from the historical to existing working day generations by phrase of mouth. They have survived the test of time since of the universality of their messages across time and boundaries. Therefore Sierra Leoneans nonetheless find conventional tales applicable and adoptable to their experiences right now. As time passes on regular stories still have to be handed down to their descendants. Noticeably this should really not be only by the oral phrase. Literacy and other elements of modern lifestyle arrive in to help the preservation and more transmission of classic stories. And this is exactly where school librarians should really occur in. By means of compilation of anthologies, recording stories into audio tapes, CD ROMs, and cinema films and generation of networks to cite but a couple examples, university librarians will be ready to make a a lot more long lasting report of this beneficial asset for long run use.