Power Of Storytelling: A Conversation With Wangari The Storyteller

In our recent interview with Grace Wangari, also known as Wangari the Storyteller, a renowned children’s storyteller and a member of the RNC Advisory Board, she shared her insights on the power of storytelling in peacebuilding and how it can shape harmonious mindsets. Wangari believes that storytelling promotes empathy and understanding. By sharing our stories with each other, we are able to understand one another better. We learn about each other’s fears, strengths, aspirations, and the things that are important to us. Through stories, we realize that at the core of our being, we are all human. This understanding allows us to come together with empathy and view each other as equals, rather than as different or other.

Storytelling can be utilized as a tool to challenge divisive narratives and foster a shared sense of humanity in peacebuilding initiatives. Wangari emphasizes the importance of active listening and understanding when utilizing storytelling. It is crucial to identify the point of contention between different parties and uncover the various perspectives. By doing so, the aim is not only to resolve the current conflict but also to instill trust in the process, ensuring that future conflicts can be addressed with the same goodwill. The goal is to rewrite the story of conflict and disharmony into one where everyone feels a sense of belonging and worth.

The power of narrative strongly influences individuals’ perceptions of conflict and can either perpetuate or mitigate violence. According to Wangari, we are a product of three stories: what we tell ourselves, what we tell others, and what others tell about us. Owning our stories allows us to confidently speak out when we feel misrepresented. Furthermore, listening to the stories others tell about us provides an opportunity for self-reflection and societal evaluation. By reshaping these narratives, we can contribute to the mitigation of violence and the promotion of peace.

Storytelling also plays a crucial role in intergenerational dialogue by enabling the transmission of lessons learned from past conflicts and shaping future mindsets towards peace. Wangari believes that children have often been viewed as victims or passive participants in peace initiatives. However, stories provide a way to explain complex concepts in a way that children can understand. Storytelling helps children shape their thoughts, express their hopes for their communities, and inspire others to understand and empathize with their perspective.

In terms of peace education, storytelling creates safe spaces for dialogue that foster critical thinking and empathy in the younger generation. Wangari emphasizes that storytelling is a non-accusatory method of resolving conflicts and promoting forgiveness and reconciliation. Through stories, parties involved in a conflict develop a rapport with each other, challenge stereotypes and assumptions, and find common ground and shared values. These shared values become the foundation for generating solutions and promoting peaceful interactions.

In conclusion, storytelling is a powerful tool for promoting peacebuilding and shaping harmonious mindsets. It promotes empathy, challenges divisive narratives, influences perceptions of conflict, enables intergenerational dialogue, and fosters critical thinking and empathy in the younger generation. Grace Wangari, also known as Wangari the Storyteller, highlights the importance of active listening, understanding, and reshaping narratives to create a peaceful and inclusive society. Through storytelling, we can build bridges, find common ground, and create a world where peace is the cornerstone of our interactions.