Yenkassa means “Let’s Speak” in Twi, Akan language widely in West Africa. Yenkassa is a collaborative storytelling platform that seeks to preserve histories, customs, and traditions that would otherwise have been lost to the demise of oral storytelling traditions from Sub-Saharan Africa. Stories (video, audio, photographs, etc.) collected from the older generation is shared with the youth with the goal to create a global learning experience that encourages cross-cultural learning and inclusiveness.
In Africa, when an old person dies, it’s like a library going up in flames”_ Malian writer and ethnologist, Amadou Hampâté Bâ. This quote is synonymous with our mission to collect stories from older generation Africans. For Sub-Sahara Africans, it wasn’t the norm to write down their history they depended on oral storytelling traditions to pass information from one generation to the other. Over time, factors such as immigration, technology, and socio-economic challenges have contributed to the demise of oral storytelling. The younger generation whom these stories are intended for is distracted and disinterested in traditions/structures that facilitate oral storytelling. The storytellers are simply left without a platform and an audience so we are losing relevant information. Yenkassa’s goal is not to only save stories lost to the dying art of oral storytelling but also to inculcate a sense of cultural pride and confidence in the next generation. The vision is to engage learners across the globe with these stories—the more we learn about other cultures/societies the better we understand, respect, and peacefully co-exist.
Yenkassa employs some of the same modern technological tools that have contributed to the demise of oral storytelling traditions. Stories/information is collected via 1st person (video, audio) interviews, online user submissions, photography, image scans, etc.