Delaware storyteller TAHIRA has been entertaining and delighting audiences of all ages for more than 20 years.
Students at the William Henry Middle School in Dover recently had an opportunity to experience her storytelling style during a presentation on civil disobedience. “I just wanted to share with them stories in history in which the law was wrong, and how everyday people across this country stood up in the face of injustice,” TAHIRA said.
Like much of TAHIRA’s life, the path to her storytelling career is also an interesting story.
“I was at the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia and I saw a storyteller. I went up to her afterwards and she told me that she was a professional storyteller. A year and half later, I quit my job in corporate America and I started doing it full time,” TAHIRA explained.
Thanks to her father, TAHIRA’s passion for storytelling was sparked at a young age. He was devoted to preserving African Culture in America, and often visited schools and centers to share his films and stories about his travels to the Caribbean and Ghana. “He was a man who was deeply committed to Pan-Africanism and that we know our history. He knew it was not being taught in school.”
As TAHIRA embarked on her storytelling career, she too dreamed of one day traveling to Ghana, a place her father encouraged her to visit.
That opportunity presented itself last year when she was selected to represent the National Association of Black Storytellers at an International Pan-African Festival in Ghana. But getting there would mean coming up with the funds.
With her daughter’s encouragement and support, TAHIRA applied for and received a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts and raised the rest of the funds through a crowd sourcing campaign.
In addition to visiting the country she had heard so much about from her father, it was also a chance for TAHIRA to find the young man her father affectionately adopted when he visited Ghana in 1973.
“He had met a young man there name Justice. He was a college student and the next year he came to Philadelphia to visit us. He was integral part of my family,” TAHIRA said. But over the years, TAHIRA’s family lost touched with Justice.
Bringing a picture of Justice with her to Ghana, TAHIRA asked everyone she came in connect with if they knew him. The one person she didn’t ask was the manager at the hotel where she stayed. After overhearing a conversation, the manager was the one person who actually could to help her. TAHIRA says the woman picked up the phone, called one person for a phone number and within minutes the connection was made. “She handed me the phone and I said, ‘Justice’ and he said my name.”
It’s just one more story TAHIRA now has to tell: She made her way to Ghana, performed with an international storyteller organization, and was reunited with the man she calls her brother. It is a story that has become a part of the fabric of her storytelling career.