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Thursday, June 25, 2020


Join Isitimela Sendaba (The Story Train) at the virtual National Arts Festival, a collaboration between ASSITEJ SA and Play Africa.

11 days, 11 vibrant storytellers bring you a daily dose of African stories to engage and delight! Come and journey with us on the Story Train!

Since March 2020, Play Africa and ASSITEJ South Africa have collaborated on an exciting new virtual storytelling platform for children. The platform provides the professional development of emerging artists, while empowering them to give back to the children in the community through oral storytelling. This collaboration is now a popular feature on Facebook Live every Tuesday afternoon, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and regulations of lockdown. Together Play Africa and ASSITEJ SA are creating employment for artists while using technology to showcase locally relevant cultural content for children and families of South Africa. This programme helps children develop imagination and literacy skills while staying safe at home.

Now, for the first-ever virtual National Arts Festival, (vNAF) ASSITEJ SA and Play Africa are further promoting online storytelling to engage curious young minds with imaginative worlds. In this newly designed production, isitimela Sendaba (“The Story Train”), 11 storytellers from across Africa will come together to share their best stories with young audiences. Hosted by professional storytellers, Thembile Tshuma and Tsholofelo Shouyane, these stories will amuse and delight 5-10 year olds.

Thobekile Mbanda’s story Latozi and her Uhadi is a tribute to one of the featured artists on the vNAF, the extraordinary Madosini, whose virtual musical virtuosity and storytelling skills are legendary. Other South African storytellers on the programme include Sizwe Vilakazi, Baeletsi Tsatsi, Mfundo Hashe, Busisiwe Radebe and Thando Mkhoyi. From across Africa, storytellers will include John Namai (Kenya), Gertrude Vimbayi Munhamo (Zimbabwe) Veronique Mensah (Namibia) and Oluwaseun ‘Aunty Shine-Shine’ Odukoya (Nigeria).

The stories will be performed live via Zoom with a new storyteller delivering a story each day of the vNAF. Those wishing to view the stories will need to register for each event by visiting the v NAF website or clicking this link:

Play Africa is a children’s museum equipping children and families for the future through play, creativity and connection. As an independent South African cultural institution, Play Africa creates child-centred spaces that spark creativity and learning through hands-on, experiential activities. Based at the iconic Constitution Hill in Johannesburg, it serves children from birth to age 10, their families and schools, igniting curiosity through ground-breaking programmes in Early Childhood Development (ECD) and foundation phase education. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it has expanded its reach through virtual programmes that stimulate imagination, empathy and human connection. More info:

ASSITEJ South Africa is a not-for-profit association of theatre artists, companies and institutions across the country who focus on theatre for children and young people. The organisation creates access to quality, performing arts programmes that are specially designed for children and young people, contributing to a more empathic, engaged and creative society. We build the sector of theatre for young audiences in South Africa through supporting and developing the artists, empowering education through the performing arts, creating strategies for access to the arts, and advocating for the role of the arts as an essential right of every child and young person

Stories from the Play Africa and ASSITEJ SA collaboration which have previously been aired live are available here:

For more information visit