Sanelisiwe Ntuli

Poet, Storyteller & Writer

There’s a saying that Sanelisiwe Ntuli lives by, which goes something like this: “When people forget, story remembers.” Ntuli’s father was a storyteller and she can still hear his voice telling her stories. She believes that by telling stories an individual can make a positive impact on society.

“By telling a story you can heal someone or change somebody’s life because we are surrounded by stories,” she says.

Born in Hammarsdale, KwaZulu-Natal in 1984, Ntuli herself is an accomplished storyteller and poet who has shared the stage with national and international performers at events such as Durban’s mega Poetry Africa event.

Ntuli, who is mentored by the queen of storytelling, Gcina Mhlope, is trying to promote literacy at schools in rural areas and disadvantaged communities through her project Funda Ubhale (Read and Write).

Funda Ubhale currently works with 10 primary schools in the Ixopo and Phungashe areas, and focuses on teaching children how to write and tell their own stories. These stories are then published in the community newspapers on a weekly basis.

The project is driven by Ntuli’s passion – it’s largely funded from her own pocket and she admits that it’s under-resourced.

As a storyteller, Ntuli’s belief is that if she can convey the message to children that reading more will enable them write and tell beautiful stories, she’ll be assisting in enhancing literary. But as she points out, many rural schools and underprivileged communities do not have access to libraries, and in her own way, she’s trying to make a difference.

“I strongly believe that children should come first in everything we do as a nation,” she says.  “Creative writing and storytelling are the foundation of literacy and we want our children to be able to write and tell our African stories. Storytelling also develops their imagination.” — Fatima Asmal