The Oral Tradition: Displacement, Adjustment, Replacement – Storytelling as a Tool for Wholistic Development by Amina Isoline Blackwood Meeks

This study is concerned with the development of the peoples of the Caribbean. It accepts Walter Rodney’s elaboration in How Europe Underdeveloped Africa on the role of capitalism, both mercantile and modern, in the economic disenfranchisement of African peoples on the continent and in the diaspora. It considers the continued categorisation of Caribbean nations as “developing,” arguing the need on the part of the Governments and peoples to practically demonstrate a seriousness to redefine the meaning of development. It supports the argument that such redefinition should be contextualised within an internally generated agenda of anti-imperialist resistance and reclamation of African ways of knowing, re-considering the nature of the resources to be thus employed. Acknowledging the utility of the privileged western-focused development models in the region, the thesis nonetheless calls for an engagement with indigenous resources which have been hitherto undervalued.

The inter-disciplinary theoretical framework of cultural economics is applied when examining the value of traditional storytelling as a re-purposed, strategic system of education for national development. Thus, the contention of Marcus Mosiah Garvey about the role of education in preparing a people for sovereign responsibility is supported. In separating traditional storytelling from devices for creating storylines as applied to art-forms such as film-making or song-writing, it theorises the wisdom in traditional stories as content and methodology for contemporary imperatives, contesting colonial education, serving reparation objectives and pursuing sustainable development.

The study is qualitative taking auto-ethnography as its primary investigative tool. This is supported by case studies, focus group discussions. For purposes of comparison it also utilizes interviews with practitioners from a variety of cultural backgrounds.

Keywords: Storytelling; sustainable development; reparations; cultural economics; education.

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