The power of story telling in shaping morals

The moon was shinning brightly in the sky. The silver clouds gave it even a more magnificent look. Over 15 kids within the age range of 7-14 sat comfortably around the lit fire. They silently stared at each other, with autumn discipline as they waited for grand mother with yet another story. 

The moon was shinning brightly in the sky. The silver clouds gave it even a more magnificent look.

Over 15 kids within the age range of 7-14 sat comfortably around the lit fire. They silently stared at each other, with autumn discipline as they waited for grand mother with yet another story.

“Threatening us that there will be no evening story was enough to make us do all the house work.

We cherished and loved grand mother’s stories,” Says Jeane Uwase, 67.

Even at this old age, remembering the story time at the fire place puts a sparkle in her small sunken eyes and sends butterflies in her stomach!

To her it’s as if it were yesterday! The memories about her favourite story are too clear to be forgotten as she narrates it!

It was about the beautiful princess who loved strangers. Though she was in the age of getting married, she never at anytime gave chance to anyone she knew……in the end, the princess married a monster that had pretended to be a descent man.

When they got to the forest, the monster ate her up saying that she had been warned about trusting strangers but she couldn’t listen.

Much as it sounds a story, it moulded Uwase’s life and marriage. She always had nightmares about suffering the same fate as the beautiful princess. She promised herself never to trust strangers up to today.

Story telling is one part of the Rwandan culture that has relentlessly shaped the young generation.

Though it’s on the low now, story telling will for ever have the credit of creating what to believe. Taboos, dangerous hazards to culture were all communicated through legends and they stuck in people’s minds forever.

Memories of sitting around the fire place waiting for the next story keeps many going.

“Kids from the neighbourhood would gather at the same place to listen to these golden stories,” says Philbert Kalisa.

The gathering of children wasn’t only to emphasize unity, the stories they were taught carried meaning, high moral values and interesting at the same time. No one would ever afford to miss!

Indeed moral stories shaped the lives of Rwandans even more than physical punishment!

The moral lessons ranged from not trusting strangers, hard work, obedience, wisdom and many values.

“I learnt that it was a man’s obligation to work hard after I had been told a story of a lazy man who yielded nothing out of it,” says Frank Ndayizeye.

Basing on stories, the Rwandan child would be restricted on his/her behaviour!

The likes of girls never climbing trees, the taboos related to sweeping at night, the taboos related to doing work when it’s still early and so many more.

All these just started with a story. Today we live to hear the story about ‘Maguru ya Sarwaya a big time hunter who ended up marrying a buffalo.’

If you went to the kid’s world, they strongly believe every single word from Maguru ya Sarwaya.

“He was strong but he had a weakness with women,” said Florence Mutarindwa, a 14 year old.

Stories give kids room to evaluate and judge thus making a decision on how they can live.

And since they are legends, stories are believed in that any other thing for kids think they hold divine or super natural powers.

And in a bid to shape Rwandan morals, the culture of story telling should be re-awakened.

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