Imbawula: Modern storytelling

We laughed, we cried, we were enlightened and we were simply enthralled when four vastly different people told us stories in a basement  at Bean Republic, over wine last week Thursday.

It was the first Imbawula event jointly hosted by Random Window and Quarphix Foundation, under the stewardship of Siphiwe Mpye. He got the ball rolling by telling us a tale of how the idea for what will now become a monthly event came about. He remembered always being curious about the time shift that happened as the sun set and he had to run home to when the dark settled leading to older boys taking over street corners to talk sex and politics next to informal fireplaces.

I imagined that people would read something short that they had written – but it was really just four people telling us stories about themselves, which was really something. First we had Lee Molefi, who told a very moving story about being a kid on the cusps of teenage drama, who had to navigate  not black enough, too smart and and an untimely death. He has the kind of voice you can listen to for hours and so it was nice to hear him speaking in such a personal way as opposed to the very serious MC’ing I’ve only ever heard. His story had us gasping, laughing  in one moment  and then suddenly crying.

The second storyteller was, the sultry voiced, Vutomi Mushwana. She spoke about love and used the example of what was one of her most important relationships to illustrate how love can smother, hurt, heal and ultimately make you grow. As a lover of love, her story was my favourite. Not because of the topic but because of the reality of what  a toxic relationship can do to you without you realizing. She definitely hit us with some wisdom. I have read some stuff on her blog and I have become a fast fan.

The third speaker was one of my favourite commentators slash bloggers, Milisuthando Bongela (better known as Miss Milli B). First of all her outfit was fierce and fittingly so because her tale was about where her journey with fashion began. But the bigger story she told was how she met her intuition while on the job, when it seemed that the world was coming crashing down around her. We so often second guess our intuition and if she had that day things would not have worked out as intended.

The night ended of an a light note when Anele Mdoda’s storytelling time turned into a bit of a comedy set. She regaled us with a tale from her early childhood, one I had read before in her book, It Feels Wrong to Laugh, But (part of The Youngsters series) but because of how animated she is in person I loved seeing that story come alive. I cried but not because there was any sad part in the story but because I was laughing so hard.

I loved the intimacy of the evening because it let those who told stories do it so freely and made those of us who listened privy to some the four storyteller’s most telling tales. I am keen for the next event, to hear more stories over wine in a basement.

PS – In between the storytelling, Melo B. Jones serenaded us, here’s a little taste of that:

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