iStimela Sendaba – The Story train

iStimela Sendaba – The Story train

We’re riding through South Africa on Family day to bring African stories to you.

Story time is family time – family time is story time!

This year, ASSITEJ SA and PLAY AFRICA Children’s Museum continue to partner on storytelling projects that commenced before and during the Covid-19 Pandemic, with the aim to bring families together around stories.

The first project saw stories offered by 4 storytellers live on Facebook via both the organizations’ pages, every Tuesday from April 2020 to January 2021. The second project was iStimela Sendaba which showcased online at the National Arts Festival in 2020. A virtual train of stories, visiting various countries, brought children and their families 11 tales from Kenya, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Nigeria. Telling their stories live on Zoom and Facebook, gave the performers an opportunity to interact and engage with the audience about the content they had just seen, bringing back some of the feel of live, physical performance.

This May, iStimela Sendaba brings 25 storytellers onto the train, coming from every province of our country to tell 50 stories in all of South Africa’s official languages. Currently, the storytellers are being trained by 5 core facilitators to bring families diverse and colourful stories on International Family Day, which is celebrated on Saturday, 15 May. iStimela Sendaba is all about passing on the wonderful African tradition of storytelling and bringing it into the modern day – exploring new forms of story and new ways of telling as we go along, while urging us to use technology in creative and innovative ways. The project also seeks to create an educational resource that can be used in kindergarten and school settings. Stories provide a way of feeding our curiosity and imaginations, developing a love of learning, while connecting us to others – these factors have become so critical for children since the global pandemic hit.

The story train is moving, and we invite all in South Africa to come and enjoy sitting around our virtual fire, to hear what we have in store for you. Some of our stories will be told live in selected venues in various provinces, ensuring safety by using appropriate COVID-19 protocols. The stories will be broadcast on both the Facebook pages of ASSITEJ SA and PLAY AFRICA on Saturday 15 May 2021, and through the rest of May.

Every child in South Africa deserves access to stories, theatre and play. With this focus in mind, we continue with our storytelling work, in the hopes of reaching all the children of South Africa.

For more information, or to hear stories near you, contact Tsholofelo Shounyane on


ASSITEJ South Africa is a registered NPO (066-875) and Public Benefit Organisation, with Section 18A status that operates as a networking platform for people working with or interested in theatre for children and young people. It aims to promote and foster high quality theatre for children and young people, to raise standards within the industry, to increase access and awareness, to develop and support artists working in the field, to be an advocate for the right of every child to arts education in schools, and to build relationships within the sector locally, nationally, across the continent and globally.

ASSITEJ South Africa is generously supported by Rand Merchant Bank, the National Lotteries Commission, the National Arts Council of South Africa, the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture, Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sports, the Africa Culture Fund, the Department of Basic Education, Business and Arts South Africa (BASA), the HCI Foundation, the City of Johannesburg and the City of Cape Town.

Other funders, supporters and partners include and have included The Learning Trust, the DG Murray Trust, UNESCO IFCD, Buz Publicity, Splitbeam Gearhouse, Institut Francaise, Alliance Francaise, Goethe Institut, Royal Netherlands Embassy, Performing Arts Fund NL, Dutch Performing Arts, Government of Flanders, Swedish Embassy, the John F Kennedy Centre for the Performing Arts, Danish Arts Foundation, Canada Council for the Arts, SIDA, Africalia, Pro Helvetia, The National School of the Arts, Soweto theatre, Artscape, Baxter Theatre, Naledi Theatre Awards, Theatre Arts Admin Collective, the National Arts Festival, Hilton Arts festival, Vrystaat Kunstefees, Pan-African Creative Exchange, University of the Witwatersrand, Drama for Life, University of KwaZulu Natal, Durban University of Technology, the Forgotten Angle Theatre Collaborative, De Stilte Dance Company, NEPAD, the Distell Foundation, Dala Arts, the Kids of the Cape, the Cape Tercentenary Foundation, CATHSSETA, Ruth & Anita Wise Trust, Lorenzo and Stella Chiappini Charitable Trust, Puppetry South Africa, The Arts and Culture Trust and Nedbank Arts Affinity, Copy Dog Productions, Speeltheater Holland Studio, Bush Radio, Fine Music Radio, and Cape Town Television. Account:
Kofi Maqhawe Dotsey
ASSITEJ South Africa
061 066 0538

iStimela Sendaba – The Story train
iStimela Sendaba – The Story train