African storyteller visits OCCC

October 21, 2011 Community Print Print

Mike Wormley/Pioneer
African storyteller Al Bostick entertains and teaches as he tells stories for Arts and Humanities Week. Bostic used a number of African instruments to musically illustrate his stories.

The spotlights in OCCC’s General Dining Area fell on Al Bostick, African storyteller Oct. 12 as part of the Arts and Humanities Week.

While much of the usual hustle and bustle of the lunch hour remained, students, faculty and staff members paused for the hour to be enthralled by Bostick’s energetic show.

He brought to the stage with him a collection of West African instruments and stories from that region, but sprinkled into his presentation moments from his own life, and tying everything together with a theme of learning.

To illustrate the theme, he shared a story from Langston Hughes, a fable about a mosquito, a song, and a series of anecdotes about his grandmother’s lessons to him.


One such anecdote was about a time when his grandmother asked him to get some live crabs for gumbo.

She told him to put the crabs in a basket and watch them. He described how she said, “They all want out so they will all shift to one side,” and they did. As he watched, one of the crabs was climbing on the backs of the others.

“He crawled up the side of each crab and, when he got to the edge of the basket, he got his pincher over and he got the other pincher over, and he started to pull himself out of the basket,” Bostick said.

“(Grandmother) said, ‘don’t worry, watch what happens.’ As soon has (the crab) got to the edge of the basket, the three crabs … pulled him right down into the basket. She said, ‘that’s like people. Never align yourself with crabs,’” he said.

These kinds of personal lessons saturated the stories he told and brought nostalgia to some members of the audience.

“I thought [the stories] were great,” said Sheila Farley, biology major. “Actually, 25 years ago, my mom used to take me to the library, where he would tell stories, so it kind of made me feel like a kid again.”

Marissa Steinhofer, visual arts major, described how his stories could be applied to parenting.

“I loved the storytelling,” Steinhofer said. “It was very humorous and it brought good life lessons you could pass on to your kids and they could pass on to their kids.”

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