FLYING WITH THE SPARROW People with Intellectual Disability in stories from Africa. Nicola Grove Openstorytellers & Department of Language and Communication Science, City University email@example.com. About Openstorytellers. Inclusive company of storytellers
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FLYING WITH THE SPARROWPeople with Intellectual Disability in stories from Africa
Department of Language and Communication Science, City University
The daft boys were also great panto fun - Bill Bumpkin..and Ben Bogtrotter.. were the Squire’s stupid servants, while LW played the loveable village idiot Billy Gosling, who had to be shouted at by the audience every time he was about to embark on another silly escapade…
Review of Mother Goose pantomime Fosse Way Magazine, 9/1/2009
Artistic Director, OPENSTORYTELLERS
I think that everyone in the world has the need to have a story, or we would be under a dark cloud.
Sometimes people had a good story and something got in their way, like bullying, politics, anti-social behaviour or unhappy relationships. We sort out problems in stories and this can help us.
I waslike Aladdin he always had to do a lot of washing, but one day he discovered he wanted to go somewhere he could find a magic lamp, and it's like me, feel like I really want to go out to a place to visit like a castle or a cave or something, and as he rubs the lamp a genie comes out with the three wishes, it reminds me of wanting to get a job and make a lot of money.…And then he falls in love with this girl and becomes rich, and to me it makes me feel like I want to go out in the world and talk to people.
I guess from my experience punishment of the family
– the next level would be they did something wrong so they are paying – the actual person (ie if a person
became disabled later in life). Very negative. In the Christian perspective it’s my gift, god is training me
to give me this gift, the Jesus way, the family is blessed. (Professional storyteller T)
You know Nicola, it is very difficult for us to think about changing these beliefs, because our culture teaches
us to accept things the way they are. This is how it is.
I remember as a child how cruel we used to be..
Persecution, stoning, rejection, mothers say they can’t send them anywhere…
The people move away as if we were aliens…
A lot of people are still scared of disability, they don’t really know how to treat people -
when they become more accustomed to it
they will relax…
You disgust me
You die a dirty dog
You did this to yourself
You are useless
You just have to kill yourself
Your parents’ punishment
I can’t eat with you in a same plate
You are not a human being
NG (in response to the story of the crippled man).
Mama Pattie, this is a very difficult story
Mama Pattie Nokwe « If you don’t like the story, all you have to do is change it »
for a different socio-ethical construction of inclusion,
which diminishes the power of sameness, embraces resilience, difference and transformation, celebrates stories and honours relationships of acceptance and friendship (Clapton, 2008)
She gets punished – she goes to hell
She goes to prison
He doesn’t die
He goes back and confronts her and brings her to justice
He goes back an
d confronts her. He forgives her and she realises that he is worth something after all. She changes
her mind about people with disabilities and becomes a
In another traditional story told me by Gillie
Southwood, the lion wants a more powerful voice,
and gets his roar when he is tricked into swallowing bees. From an empowerment perspective I think the message is about giving people challenges which enable them to discover the power within themselves to break through a barrier, even when this causes pain – rather than the more apparently obvious moral that dumb people can be made to speak by hurting or bullying them. (Grove, 2008)
Two daughters, one intelligent, Her mother has died and her father has married again. Her sister is less intelligent. The first girl works hard and everyone loves her. Her sister pushes her into the river when they go to fill their water pots. She is swept across the river to another land. The first thing she sees is a sheep. It is weighed down by its long long hair, trailing on the ground, Shear me, shear me pleads the sheep. Of course says the girl and she takes the clippers from behind the sheep’s ear and clips his fleece. The sheep thanks her…
NG What do you mean by intelligent?
Anaya: The first girl is respectful, she listens. The second girl is impatient, not respectful.
Anaya is Pattie Nokwe’s granddaughter and translator
Ie, the underlying construct of « intelligence » relates to emotional and social skilfulness, rather than to reasoning and intellect
At a time of drought, the people’s prayers cannot
reach the rain goddess, who is too far away. Vulture, dove and sparrow volunteer to fly up to heaven.
Vulture takes dove on his back, dove takes sparrow
on her back. Half way up the vulture tires and drops down, dove carries on, but tires, and it is the tiny
sparrow who successfully reaches Heaven and
petitions the goddess, who responds with a shower
of rain. (Traditional Zulu, told by Muza Ntanzi from Khwakhayalendaba (House of Stories) Soweto)
« I’m going to help you to fly »response of nondisabled child on hearing the story, putting his arms around a friend and supporting him to raise them up