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Reflections on Storytelling and Youth Leadership

By Ernestina Kabukour Kateye

“Young people should seek new opportunities to create new stories”

Ernestina Kabukour Kateye, Ghana

To me, storytelling means bracing yourself for your strengths and weaknesses, your proud moments and mistakes, your flaws and all.

Storytelling is about having the courage to accept self in all phases of your life’s journey and being vulnerable yet brave enough to share your truth, your authenticity with the rest of the world. 

Storytelling is knowing that someone somewhere, someway somehow,  another will connect with the all so familiar experiences and gather strength from it to overcome his or her own battles. 

Storytelling means connecting with a human who very much like yourself, is searching for hope in the lives of others that have overcome.

I have discovered so far, that the outcome of storytelling is usually two. You either give yourself permission to script a new chapter of your life or you allow someone else to receive the grace to carry on in life in spite of troubling circumstances. 

Fortunately, in both scenarios, everyone wins. Everyone is given the insight to grow into a better self, everyone gets closer to becoming the hero in his or her story. Storytelling liberates.

In less than a year, I have been privileged to have participated in 5 leadership programs (3 ongoing) when I somehow mustered courage to just get better through storytelling. And I say this with much passion and love towards self because it was almost impossible to overcome.

Whoever said that the first step towards change is the hardest was right. Afterwards, it only gets easier and you can only learn to become better

In my country, Ghana, storytelling can contribute to the development of deprived communities by bringing to the attention of appropriate authorities, the challenges faced by the locals due to the lack or insufficiency of basic amenities such as water, housing and sanitary facilities, and electricity to solicit their support. 

Storytelling can expose and correct the ills of society such as molestation and abuse, in all forms, robberies and killings, and other unacceptable forms of social behaviour; so that the perpetrators may be brought to book and the victims served justice, as the law explicitly frowns on the infringement of human rights. 

An uneducated child may be able to receive education when his or her story is told of the absence of opportunity and out of benevolence, his or her education is sponsored. 

A homeless child may be given a home when his or her story of hopelessness is told and a family who yearns to love and support a child yet have also lost hope to conceive any, decide to adopt this child and give him or her a home.

 A dying patient may be able to live again when his or her story is told of the need for funds to perform a surgical operation that could restore him or her back to health, and the love of community contributes in cash or kind irrespective of the relation that may or may not exist between them. 

A community may be sustained when the challenges faced due to insufficient road networks are told through storytelling, that places an onus on the appropriate authorities to construct more roads, making them accountable in carrying out their duties. 

In my country, storytelling can make citizens take responsibility for their actions and be more accountable for the well-being of one other but most importantly, storytelling can help ordinary citizens place checks on authorities to duly fulfill their roles to the country and to avoid the abuse of power, which is pivotal in driving the development of a country.

Young people should seek new opportunities to create new stories. They should be willing to live outside their comfort zones to create stories yet untold. They should boldly take risks aware to explore new possibilities to living life unafraid.

They should strive to use their voices to correct the stereotypes (in all manner of forms) our ancestors opposed, to enable them create new stories of liberation and the freedom of expression for themselves, and the generations to come. 

The youth should be willing to search for ways to sustain their environment in order to preserve the ecosystem, creating new stories of hope for the future generations through sustainable development.

This article is republished from the Power of Thought blog: