Fiction Stories Preserve Oral Traditions
by Bruce L. Cook
Often our fiction stories are more important than they seem.
If you live in an undeveloped area, or if you grew up in one, you might well carry stories that will disappear when that area experiences high population density, industrial development, and global language and communications.
Being from Chicago, I wonder about stories and traditions that existed when American Indians occupied that land by Lake Michigan. If I could visit and meet with the elders of that time, I have no doubt that I would learn stories – many about hunting and perhaps religion – which are completely gone from that area today.
The same is true of families. When you conduct genealogical research, and when you unearth a box of relics from that largely forgotten past, you dearly wish you could go back and ask someone to tell you those stories – things that “everyone” at the time knew about each family member and how they lived and worked in a time and place we can never see. To the extent that you can gather such information, you do well to write memoirs, which provide nonfiction treasures for the generations ahead.
And the same is true for language, for the implantation of a new language in a place gradually erodes the speaking of traditional languages and dialects until only Grandma, or an old man down the street, remembers the original language at all.
Time has its way of grinding on and eroding the past, and much of this (not all) is good. Meanwhile we, as fiction writers who still remember, have inherited the responsibility to write our stories – historical novels, if you will - which paint a picture of the past or even present for future readers who wish they could come back to visit old times.
One World Project Creating Buzz... (continued)
“The project was initially conceived as an effort to address the imbalance in the world social system. Several attempts to actualize it failed because I didn’t have the forum to galvanize productivity and also because the few writers that I contacted weren’t too keen,” Adagha said. But, he didn’t give up. He decided that the internet could serve as the vehicle to bring emerging writers from around the world together for the project he envisioned. He found the perfect home at the Zoetrope website. “Zoetrope provided the much needed platform.”
That was in December of last year. He set up a virtual office and started collecting writers. “The idea was to get about ten upcoming writers, who would contribute three stories each. Stories that would thematically address third world issues, this initial figure was turned down by the few writers who started out with me. They agreed to contribute only one story each and that was how we started. Somehow the body of writers I was assembling kept expanding, even with the several withdrawals. By the time the anthology was ready to be shipped out, we had on board a fantastic array of talented writers who had contributed their voices to the theme.”
Stories have now been submitted, critiqued and edited by members, and Adagha and his group now have a finished manuscript that has been sent out to numerous publishers. Among the writers who have participated in the One World Project are Orange Prize winner, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Bridport and Fish prizewinner, Vanessa Gebbie, and 2004 Caine Prize short-listed author, Chika Unigwe, among others. The twenty-one writers who have contributed stories come from all over the world including Greece, Botswana, Puerto Rico, Australia, India, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Kenya, USA, UK, Zimbabwe, Malaysia and Nigeria.
And buzz about the project is growing. The group have set up a blog to follow the progress toward publication. ( See http://theoneworldproject.blogspot.com/). For Adagha, the journey to the realisation of his dream is an exciting one, “In terms of effect and impact, I would say the momentum is just building. We are currently talking with some publishers, who we hope will help us spread the ‘One World’ message to every corner of the globe.”
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