'Hadithi Njoo' was created for the 2016 Defi 35 group exhibition at Articule Gallery. The work is inspired by the tradition of storytelling and the ethereal realm where stories exist.
In Tanzania, storytelling is a ritual. When we tell a story in Kiswahili, each story begins the same. The storyteller announces that a story is about to be told: "Hadithi! Hadithi!" (Story! Story!) and the audience, usually children, respond in chorus: "Hadithi njoo! Uwongo njoo! Utamu kolea!" (loosely translated: "Let the story come, let the embellishments come, let the sweetness be great". The call and response opening of a story is familiar to everyone, young and old. It connects the storyteller, the audience, and the spiritual realm where stories are held. When the audience responds "Hadithi Njoo!" - they are evoking the story into existence, and the storyteller becomes a conduit from which the story emerges.
Hadithi Njoo Photo transfer, acrylic, fabric, wood burning on found wood, 24"x 30", 2016
Call and response, and the calling of stories into being is not unique to Tanzania, but is common in many countries within the African continent and throughout the African Diaspora. When considering the power of the oral tradition and storytelling as means of maintaining collective knowledge, it is no wonder that similar stories exist across the globe as a result of the dispersal of African people.