INTERNATIONAL ORALITY NETWORK, AFRICA
WEST AFRICAN ORALITY CONSULTATION, NIGERIA
17TH-20TH JULY, 2017
SHARING THE GOSPEL AND MAKING DISCIPLES OF ORAL LEARNERS
DAY 2 INTRODUCTION
It was another remarkable day of discussions centered on the use of orality at ECWA Headquarters Conference Hall. The first day of the consultation was an introduction to the concept of orality. It gave the participants an understanding of the term “orality” (how people receive, process, remember and pass on messages), as well as the theological basis and perspective of oral learning.
Day 2 focused on practical descriptions of the practice of orality. It sought to help participants analyse the different practices of oral learning and how storytelling has worked in different contexts in Africa. Again, participants had interesting discussions and grappled with numerous issues confronting Africans in regards to the transmission of information and knowledge in contemporary times.
The sessions were entirely practical, with participants allowed to discuss and raise issues that have a direct bearing on the subject matter. Key questions raised during these discussions are highlighted below: how can a person under authority introduce orality to a system that is solely dependent on literacy (reading and writing)? How can the authenticity of the Bible be maintained if orality is emphasized over literacy? In a place where diverse cultures, languages and worldviews exist, how can orality still be effective?
The sessions handled by Bramuel Musya and Charles Madinger showed how the seven gateways and multiple pathways for instruction, guidance and service affect learning. These seven gateways are story, media, arts and culture, education, research, development and focused outreach; but the emphasis was on using storytelling to reach different contexts in Africa.
The seven gateways help us to recognize how people receive, process, remember, and pass on information and essentially knowledge. Consequently, it is imperative that we seek to better understand how culture, language, literacy, networks, memory, arts and media can affect the process. This is the essence of the current discussions on orality.
Few reasons were advanced in the discussion as to why storytelling is more emphasized. This is because stories capture attention, aid remembrance, appeal to the emotion, promote questions and provide room for discussion, among others. The story Nathan told David after Uriah’s death is a classic example in this regard.
In using storytelling, it is essential to learn about the culture and worldview of the people. Like Jesus, we must not ignore the worldview of the people; instead, we should use what they know to teach what they do not know. Furthermore, barriers to communication should be recognized and strategies should be developed to address them. But in doing all this, it is paramount to depend on God’s wisdom.
While it is a given that there is power in the blood of Jesus, on the other hand (as remarked by one of the participants), there is also immense power in the stories of the Bible. Through storytelling, many people have received healing from various diseases. This was echoed by various participants who shared testimonies to describe their experiences in the various ministries they are engaged in.
It should be noted that there are different ways to tell stories in an engaging manner, though orality is not necessarily limited to storytelling. Christians ought to identify how people receive, process, remember and pass on what they are taught, using the seven disciplines of orality (Jesus’ Model), which are: culture, language, literacy, network, memory, arts and media.