The rich heritage of South African storytelling, once told around firesides by elder family members, is finding a fresh voice in the realm of podcasts. Historically, these stories, narrated in indigenous languages, played pivotal roles – entertaining, imparting moral lessons, and preserving the country’s heritage.
Now, this tradition is being rekindled with modern twists. Over the past half-decade, podcasting has burgeoned as a familiar medium. Traditional tales, steeped in local lore, have been adapted to this format. A notable example is the podcast ‘African Story Magic with Gcina Mhlophe’, presented in both isiZulu and English, and aimed at a younger audience. Concurrently, ‘The Journey Kwantu’, helmed by Vusumzi Ngxande, delves deep into African beliefs and identity.
The breadth of content isn’t limited to folklore. The IsiXhosa podcast, ‘Epokothweni with Babalwa Nonkenge’, offers insights into personal finance, demonstrating the versatility of storytelling in native languages.
Ncebakazi Manzi, Podcast Manager for Spotify Sub-Saharan Africa, reflected on the company’s ambition, “Our intention with launching Spotify for Podcasters was to eradicate barriers often encountered in podcasting. This initiative enables authentic South African narratives to come to the fore. The diversity of content and languages flourishing on the platform is heartening.”
With the global appeal of podcasts, platforms like Spotify play an instrumental role in the dissemination of content. Data reveals that between 2021 and 2022, podcast consumption grew by a staggering 65%. This surge aligned with the debut of ‘After School Is After School With Sis G.U’ in 2021, one of the nation’s top ten favourite podcasts. Notably, peak listening times are during morning and evening commutes. Remarkably, South Africa boasts higher podcast listenership than any other nation in Sub-Saharan Africa.
As digital mediums become ubiquitous, the synthesis of culture and technology becomes crucial. Particularly in South Africa, where the younger demographic, constituting over 32% of the population, emerges as the predominant podcast consumers.