For centuries stories and storytelling have played critical roles in preserving, transmitting and changing cultural standards and values on to its people. Storytellers, once high-ranking on the “Most Wanted” to be captured list for invading armies. Too, highly paid entertainers in the local lavatories – I guess if you are just sitting there, you might as well be entertained! Storytellers, the keeper of the stories, the newscasters, the culture bears, the genealogists and the historians of ages past.
While researching some of the folktales for my Bug-a-Bration Bug Swapin’ Tale and Tunes and Luminous Lagoon: Buggy Tales and Tunes I became acutely aware of how much of the rain forest in different had been destroyed in my lifetime. In crafting the story-line and the Afro-Caribbean folktales for two kids storytelling CD’s, I developed these stories around the geological context of the type of rain forests in the countries where the stories were told. After collecting basic information on the history of the rain-forests, their endemic and endangered species, including insects, and other fun plants, I began adding them in to the story-line, as a tribute to these amazing creatures and the world they live in, as well as honoring the integrity of these stories. As a result, I got to meet wonderful creatures such as the boto, pictured above, or the pink river dolphin found in the Amazon rain forest as well as black pineapples, lemon tasting termites and the Victoria Rega, a six-foot giant waterlily. In the limestone rainforest of Jamaica ; the lampid firefly, stinking toe trees and cho cho’s, as well as Luminous Lagoon in different section of the island.
Through my research I learned that the Amazon river’s Boto, or pink river dolphin, is endangered. Local stories and legends gave the people warnings of what might happen if they did not take care of the river. For it was said if anyone hurt the river in any way, the Boto would come to the land in the form of a human. In this new form, the Boto would visit the village of the offender and cause unwanted pregnancy, war and other types of illnesses as punishment for hurting her waters. One Amazonian man interviewed wisely said: “When people stopped believing the folktales and legends, they stopped taking care of the rivers and the land.”
Until next time . . . Let Your Storyographer’s Journey Begin!