Germantown: Storytellers Emphasize Importance of Culture During Day of Peace

Josh Duncan
Jos Duncan turns to younger audience members when referencing popular culture.
Queen Nur
Queen Nur uses dance to help tell her story.

Children and adults gathered at the playground of the Lonnie Young Recreation Center to hear storytelling that promoted creating a culture of peace, as a part of Peace Day Philly.

Observed on Sept. 21, Peace Day Philly urges both members and leaders of the Philadelphia community to participate in the United Nations International Day of Peace.

Denise Valentine shares a story about a talented frog.

The storytellers came from two organizations founded and intended for African-Americans to tell and share their stories, GriotWorks and the National Association of Black Storytellers, Inc.

Jos Duncan, Executive Producer and Director of  GriotWorks, kicked off the event with a Ghanian call and response.

“When I say ‘ago,’ I am asking for your attention,” Duncan said. “When you say, ‘ame,’ you are saying, ‘Yes, you may have it.'”

Duncan organized the event as a Neighborhood Day of Storytelling through her involvement with GriotWorks. GriotWorks has strived to bridge the gaps between communities, cultures and generations using the power of story. “Griot” is French for “jeli,” which is the name of a West African storyteller whose stories hold communities together.

The storytellers highlighted the importance of “people of color” to be able to freely express themselves and share their stories.

“This event is not only helping to talk about the importance of peace in our community,” said Denise Valentine, social media coordinator for NABS, “but it’s also a place of storytelling, especially in communities of color.”

Josh Duncan
Jos Duncan turns to younger audience members when referencing popular culture.

Part of NABS’s mission is to promote and perpetuate the art of Black storytelling and preserve and pass on the folklore, legends, myths, fables of Africans, their descendants and ancestors.

“It’s very important that we continue the African oral tradition in our communities, in our families and I am a black storyteller,” said Queen Nur, president-elect of NABS. “[We pass] on our culture, not only through words and not only through the stories, but through the way we have lived and our folklife.”

The two-hour event kept community members engaged by incorporating today’s popular culture as well as asking members to take on rolls of the people in the stories. Smiles, laughs and cheers were present all throughout as peace, particularly in the African-American community, was demonstrated.

At the close of the event, children were urged to write positive letters to their family members describing what peace means to them.

“Peace can mean the love that you have,” Nur said, “because you can’t have peace without love.”


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