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SPOTLIGHT ON MAMA KOKU, City Lights, NPR 90.1 WABE Atlanta
June 19th has become a day of celebration for African-Americans which includes rodeos, fishing, barbecuing, festivals and various other events that reflect our culture. It has been named Juneteenth. Slaves were freed in 1861, but those in Texas didn't know they were free until 1865. This is the 150th year of celebrating Juneteenth. Juneteenth now has a website where visitors can learn of worldwide Juneteenth celebrations.
On June 19, 2015, Kuumba's Donna "Mama Koku" Buie, appeared on the National Public Radio 90.1 WABE Atlanta program titled, "City Lights" with Lois Reitzes. Mama Koku has been deemed a master storyteller and children's writer. VISIT WABE 90.1 WEBSITE
Some of Mama Koku's wonderful responses to questions posed by Reitzes were, "When you are in front of a person and they are telling a story from their heart, their personal life, their history they connect with you. I remember my dad telling me and my baby brother stories. There is something about getting close to that person who is communicating with you their laughter, their energy, their humor it hits you closer. There are stories we improvise. Novice storytellers have asked me how did you learn that story. One thing I tell them is you hear a story and you tell it your own way. You remember and tell what you love. A lot of us grew up with stories like The Three Little Pigs, Cinderella...there is something about those stories that is in us. I take them in and I share them. My dad told a lot of the Br'er Rabbit stories. When I came to Atlanta and started hearing the stories and went to the Wren's Nest, I knew my dad didn't write the stories, but he knew the stories and taught them to us. You see the tricksters and characters in most of the other cultures. We call them universal themes."
Reitzes asked, "To approach storytelling for something as difficult as slavery, how do you go about it? "All of those stores that were created by African people and told by slaves in America used animals such as a spider, a rabbit, etc. In those stories you have what appears to be a powerless creature who constantly outsmarts the master. His pranks take him to a good safe place in the end. Children connect with these types of stories. In my home my daughter and I talk about these types of stories. When Blessed was 4-years-old, we were watching a Disney movie about a horse. She said, "Mama, they're treating him like a slave." Children understand metaphor before they understand anything else. They can't identify a metaphor for what it is. Children also want to be powerful. They want to be in control. They love to be scared, but they know there is going to be a happy ending."
"My stories are always interactive. The children always come on stage with me. My daughter helped me create the story I'm sharing this season that I wrote."
Above: People pose during a ''Juneteenth'' celebration in Texas in 1900. 2015 marks the 150th anniversary of the day on which the end of slavery was declared. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Austin History Center
As part of the 2015 Atlanta History Center Juneteenth Celebration, Mama Koku performed on June 20, at 11am and 2pm. For more about Mama Koku, check her bio page and profile on Kuumba Storytellers of Atlanta's website.
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builders, dream keepers and more. The
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we're teachers, actors, drummers,
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We're Decades of Experience. Kuumba Storytellers, Inc. is an Affiliate
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What it takes: imagination, a story and a voice.
When we meet: 2nd Saturday of each month from 3:00-5:00 pm
What we offer:
- Open Mic Performances
- Storytelling Sessions and Classes
- Storytelling Concerts (youth and adults)
- Festivals, Workshops and Story Swaps
- Kuumba Youth "Tattle Tales" Storytelling Club
... and much, much more!