Everybody tells stories [among the Akamba], but there are degrees of skill and ability in the art. Similarly, everyone listens to stories, although children have to be present when a story is being told. Adults do not tell stories among themselves.
The time must be after sunset, for the Akamba say that ngewa ityi muyo muthenka (“stories are not interesting during the day-time”), o kuyananiwaa muthenya (“stories are not narrated during the day-time). People are no longer working in the fields or herding in the plains. Families are together after the day’s work, and when the exchange of news is over and the pots are bubbling, when the mills are silent and cattle are no longer mooing after being milked, then it is time to tell stories. The people are sitting round the fire; the children stop playing, and wait expectantly. If one child has to go to another house to fetch something, the story-teller waits until the child comes back and is ready to listen. Grown-ups must refrain from unnecessary interruptions.
Grandparents usually have more stories to tell than other people, and next to them are the parents, and the older brothers and sister of the children. But younger members of the family have also to learn to narrate, which they do by repeating some of the stories after a few months, or by relating them to other youngsters when they go to visit relatives. If a person does not know stories and how to tell them, other people laugh at him. So everyone has to listen and to narrate. […]
The narrator puts life into the story to make it appeal. If there is a moral to be learned, a good story-teller does not labour it: the story will lend itself to that purpose, if it is properly told. […] The narrator never mentions [the] lessons [to be learnt from a story]. He simply tells the story which dramatizes the lessons.
John S. Mbiti, Akamba Stories, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1966, pp. 23-25
Illustration inspired by the drawing of a shaman’s drum