Uganda's flag

Uganda

Storytelling in Uganda is integral to the country’s rich cultural heritage. The storyteller, usually a seasoned and skilled individual, captivates the audience with expressive gestures, vivid descriptions, and vocal intonations, making the tales come to life.

In Ugandan communities, storytelling is a vital tradition that preserves history, passes down moral values, and entertains. Respected storytellers, known as griots, recount myths, legends, folktales, and historical events, providing valuable lessons.

In 2023, CPI partnered with HAF-UGANDA, an NGO serving displaced children in northern Uganda. In 2024, CPI teamed up with Youth Sports Uganda (YSU) to bring storytelling sessions to children in Kampala.

Storyteller and children raising hand under a tree in Uganda
Children in Kampala Refugee Settlement raise their hands during storytelling session. We love seeing the excitement and curiosity in our storytelling sessions!
Storyteller and children raising hand under a tree in Kampala Uganda
During our recent storytelling session in Kampala, the children eagerly raised their hands to share their thoughts and ask questions. It's moments like these that highlight the power of storytelling in sparking imagination and encouraging active participation.

Storytelling Benefits CPI's Partners in Uganda Have Observed

For children, storytelling enhances emotional intelligence, fosters creativity, and aids language development. Participating in storytelling gatherings helps children gain a sense of belonging, learn important life lessons, and develop critical thinking skills, contributing to their overall growth and well-being.

 

Why Is Storytelling So Important In Uganda?

Before colonization, Uganda had a rich tradition of storytelling, which effectively shared and transferred cultural knowledge and assisted with the moral upbringing of young people.

When European Christian missionaries introduced formal education in Uganda in the 1890s, they made little to no effort to integrate this rich oral tradition into the formal education system. Instead, they emphasized reading, writing, and arithmetic, aiming to create a literate society while disregarding African oral traditions.

In 2013, responding to the government’s call for partnerships with NGOs and CSOs to improve Ugandan education, Uganda was selected as one of the pilot countries for the implementation of the African Storybook Project (ASb).

CPI’s partner, Ochaka Richard Okot from HAF-Uganda, is mobilizing stakeholders, including the Ministry of Education, to encourage the reinstatement of storytelling in Ugandan schools.

In 2023, HAF-Uganda first deployed CPI’s Storytelling program in the Palabek Refugee Settlement, demonstrating the program’s effectiveness in supporting displaced children and preserving cultural heritage.

storytelling in Uganda

Meet CPI's Partners in Uganda

Hopelink Action Foundation (HAF-Uganda)

CPI teamed up with HAF-Uganda in 2023. We deployed a successful storytelling program in Palabek Refugee Settlement in Northern Uganda. Read more here.

HAF Uganda) is a dynamic non-profit that implements transformative projects and programs in mental health and psycho-social care, education and child protection, agriculture and livelihoods, community development, biodiversity and environmental protection, and advocacy and sensitization. HAF-Uganda empowers disadvantaged and marginalized communities through transformative projects in mental health, education, child protection, agriculture, community development, biodiversity, environmental protection, advocacy, and sensitization, aiming to break the cycle of poverty and dependency. The NGO is run by Ochaka Richard Okot, a Clinical Psychologist and a dedicated advocate for the rights of people affected by conflicts.

Youth Sports Uganda (YSU)

CPI and YSU began collaborating in early 2024. By June, YSU launched its first storytelling program for children in Kampala.

Youth Sport Uganda (YSU) is sports for development organization established in 2006 with a mission to offer educational, health and life skills opportunities to vulnerable youths among the IDPs and Urban refugees in Uganda through harnessing the power of sports. YSU works with Ministry of Education and Sports, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development and Local Governments to deliver programs in the sectors of psychosocial, mental health, protection, health, livelihoods, water and sanitation and education.

Storytelling in Kampala Refugee Settlement

A Ugandan Folktale

"Wild Animal Called Hyena Missed White Ants"

("Lalur Okeng Ngwen")

Lalur, the hyena, is often seen as a greedy and lazy creature, relying heavily on easy meals. The tale “Wild Animal Called Hyena Missed White Ants” unfolds with Hyena missing out on a feast of white ants due to being lured away by the scent of decaying animal skin placed in two pots on its path to the ant hill. Instead of heading straight to catch the white ants, Hyena became distracted and started running left and right, following the smell of the decomposing skin. Seizing the opportunity created by Hyena’s confusion, a clever monster named Obibi swiftly gathered white ants from the ant hill that Hyena had prepared.

Storytelling activities Uganda during safe space opening ritual
Laker Brenda and the children engaging in a physical activity during the storytelliner session "Lalur Okeng Ngwen."

Lessons Learned:

  • The confusion that arises from having two paths often emphasizes the importance of sticking to a single plan until it is successfully accomplished.
  • Avoid greediness and refrain from desiring anything without trying to attain it. Hard work and perseverance are emphasized, as the path that truly pays off.
  • Always stay committed to the plan and avoid getting easily distracted, just like the hyena that was led astray by the scent of decomposing animal skin.
 

The Storyteller

Mr. Kitara John Bosco, a respected elder from the community, was present, and alongside him was Laker Brenda, who assisted in identifying the students, or learners as children are referred to in sub-Sahara.

The Children

The students (“learners”) from Apyeta Primary School in Lamwo District, Northern Uganda. Trivia: Lamwo District is one of the districts in the Northern region of Uganda. It is bordered by Amuru district in the North West, the Republic of South Sudan in the North, Gulu district in the south west, Kitgum District in the East and South East and part of Pader District in the South.

Watch the Video of CPI's First Storytelling Session in Uganda

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