Creative storytelling helps the migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers that we work with to have control over the narratives that shape their identities and the tools to build their sense of self and pathways towards belonging in South Africa. It is a process that through listening and learning aims to drive personal and collective transformation in people’s lives.
Oral storytelling is also an integral part of our peer support process at the Adonis Musati Project. Storytelling is an important traditional medium that at AMP, allows Peer Counsellors to tackle sensitive and culturally taboo subjects such as gender-based violence and female genital mutilation in a non-threatening manner. The inclusion of photography, video and audio enables our Peer Counsellors to further engage AMP clients, and leads to dialogue, reflection and action in our Peer Support Programme groups.
Storytelling can also be used to bring the experiences and narratives of migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers into public debates, to help challenge assumptions, provide understanding, and encourage social cohesion.
Agency, Identity & Belonging
A key part of our work with young people at Adonis Musati Project involves creating space for their stories. We do this within our Youth Support Groups and we do this through arts-based practices that enable creative expression. Creative storytelling helps young people to have control over the narratives that shape their identities and the tools to build their sense of self and pathways towards belonging. The experiences of girls and young women in particular are often untold or overshadowed, and in one of our recent digital storytelling workshops focusing on Agency, Identity & Belonging, a group of female youth leaders created and shared their own stories in an effort to increase awareness about the unique issues they face as young women from other African countries – including feelings of dual identities, navigating gender norms and expectations, ideas of who they are and who they want to become, and advocating for social cohesion between young people across cultural and regional divides in South Africa.
In South Africa, current debates in the media and politics focus on establishing who does, and does not, belong and migrants are often blamed for social problems. Many people feel alienated from the place where they live—and do not feel that they belong. This project aims to use storytelling to generate new bottom-up narratives about the everyday experience of inclusion and exclusion. The stories, which were created through an in-depth participatory process, document diverse experiences of living in Cape Town in people's own words and images. The stories help us to connect with others sharing our city, whom we might pass by everyday but whose life experiences are far from our own.
Speaking Our Truth
These four digital stories address intimate partner violence and gender-based violence, moving from victim to survivour, and the resilience it takes to survive in the face of violence - in spite of deeply entrenched gender norms in the home and community, and structural obstacles in South Africa. Whilst the stories are being shared in educational and advocacy settings, the primary aim of this storytelling process was to bring together clients from our Women’s Support Group as a means for them to connect with other women who share similar experiences, to heal from past trauma, and to gain confidence and storytelling skills.
Youth-Led Transformative Story-Work
As mentioned above, a main aim of our youth programming is to create processes of self-making and transformation for young people with migration backgrounds. AMP undertakes story-work that enables reflection and learning on questions of identities and belonging. The youth-led transformative story-work is therefore about catalysing processes of self-development and collective consciousness raising for these young people. They do this through collaborating with other youth and by translating new found knowledge and insights to take our youth programming forward.
When South Africa Became Home
These stories, produced with support from StoryCenter's Silence Speaks Initiative, touch on experiences of war, trauma, intimate partner violence, loss and resilience. In an aim to spotlight the challenges that migrants, refugees and asylum seekers face whilst trying to make a new home for themselves in South Africa, these stories are shared in AMP's Peer Counselling Groups and advocacy meetings, as well as at screenings with government representatives, local partners, service providers and other stakeholders.