Traditionally, oral stories were passed from generation to generation and survived solely by memory. With written media, this has become less important. People of all times and places have told stories and in the oral tradition, storytelling includes the teller and the audience. The storyteller brings out the experience while the audience perceives the message and creates personal mental images from the words heard and the gestures seen. In this experience the audience becomes co-creator of the art. Oral storytelling is an improvisational art form, one that is sometimes compared to music.
Museums in Zambia have a role of preserving both the tangible and intangible heritage as they are an important cultural space. The Lusaka National Museum has identified itself as a safe guard for this fast disappearing ancient Zambian tradition. The programme "Re-living Folklore of Zambian Communities through Story Telling" is the initiative of the museum, to try and show the importance of preserving the intangible heritage of the Zambian people thus traditions, customs and beliefs.
Storytelling programme is conducted in conjunction with elders from the museum's catchment area who are used to tell stories about customs, traditions and beliefs of the different cultures as well as about real life situations. In any society, the elderly members of the society are considered as living libraries/testimonies of traditions, customs and beliefs of their societies. The stories are told to children in schools, children in informal social life, as well as adults and other members of the community. The museum artifacts are used to stimulate and develop children's imaginations and powers of observation in telling the stories. The stories portray both traditional and contemporary issues on themes such as fishing, hunting, farming, cooking, house building, cloth making, modeling, traveling, the stars and the cosmos, ghosts and monsters, tricksters, animals, fairies, etc.
Objectives of the Programme are:
- To preserve our intangible heritage "To enhance creativity, imagination and innovation through story telling
- To broaden the knowledge base on folklore for the appreciation of cultural heritage through storytelling
- To present folklore through storytelling to the public
- To attract both children and adults to the Lusaka National Museum through story telling
- To encourage museum visitors to discover hidden information about their culture through story telling
- To display in the museum the old as well as contemporary stories told from a Zambian cultural/heritage perspective by both children and adults
- To document folktales for the preservation of our folklore for research and posterity