The year is 2001, it is 7:30 p.m. a woman in her mid-50s serves dinner to her grandchildren, the sources of light available, a kerosene lamp and the bright moon penetrating through the tattered curtains. The dark looms onto them, “Eat very fast the lamp is frail, anytime from now it might go dark”, granny murmured. However much this was the case, she was saving the last drop of kerosene in the lamp for her oldest grandchild to be able to do their homework. Fast forward to 13th April 2021, at the DRIVE (Digital Reading for Inclusivity Versatility and Engagement) workshops in Nairobi as participants share about the instruments that inculcated reading into them, a participant mentions the kerosene lamp and down memory lane I went, there and then precedent was set for the DRIVE.
Given that social interactions were limited the past year, it was amazing how participants drawn from different backgrounds spanning from novelists, education researchers, avid advocates of human rights, journalists and a techie for a facilitator, the room was never shot of opinionated, educated, and nerve cracking humor and sentiments.
What hinders digital storytelling in your communities? Joseph Odhiambo the facilitator enquired – a lack of knowledge of how to utilize the digital spaces and platforms one participant mentioned, what is digital storytelling another one enquired, a fear that our stories are unauthentic and far apart from the rest of the world – at this point jaws in the room dropped as if we all had stories to tell but we had the same fears.
Unanimously, we agreed that this fear existed not only in the room but across our communities and these fears were reinforced by the threshold set by the stories and literature we consume from outside our communities take for example the works of the great Shakespeare.
With a sigh and smirk on his face, Joseph officially welcomed us to the DRIVE workshop, “ welcome to the main deal guys, all those fears are to be lifted and dealt with here, so buckle up”. The tension in the room dispersed.
It is fascinating how we have the same alphabetical order at our disposal but we construct totally different words. This realization came to me during one of the wordplay activities. This activity was geared towards simplifying the thought process of conceptualizing, planning and delivering our stories. Here is a sample from the first take at the wordplay by the team.
“Daddy always loved tea time after school. He would defend and encourage reasonable story telling that revolve around life and education. He was a passionate lover to our beautiful and bold Mum. Although official, daddy could be playful but strict, objective and sensitive. His important values were loyalty and respect. His open personality would lead us to an interesting, happy and objective lifestyle.”
A digital story consists of different components. The first is identifying a story just like we did through the word play, next in line is putting together a script and a storyboard. The above determine the photos, audio and other elements needed to enhance your digital story after which they are put together to make a complete story. Armed with the knowledge, we were ready to tell our most authentic stories.
Core values of the DRIVE.
No human is short of stories to tell, so every human being deserves tools that are inclusive and accessible to tell and consume their stories. Before the Drive workshop, I thought that accessibility and inclusivity were matters of policymaking accessible buildings and employment. How I was wrong! With a device like an iPad, you could make digital storytelling accessible and inclusive for everybody. With an array of in built digital tactile and Braille applications, voice recognition and other different accessible tools, this realization bridges and closes the gaps in digital literacy and the ability to tell digital stories among persons with disabilities.
Stories heal, stories inspire, stories educate. No story is ever bad. Once put together properly, then it deserves a listening ear or an eyeball. With digital storytelling, the stories we tell shall transcend time. And since there isn’t a monopoly on storytelling let the DRIVE project be extended to all communities.