The art of story telling

Our life as communicators revolves around story telling. At the very heart of our work we help people say what they want to say, simply and clearly and give them opportunities to be heard.

Not surprisingly then, the Fenton team love reading, love language and relish listening to people who tell their stories well.

Recently, our CEO Melanie Wilkinson and I heard a special story told by an extraordinary woman at a Melbourne Forum lunch.

Geraldine Coy is a white South African Australian who became involved in the ending of the apartheid movement and the establishment of a democratic South Africa.

In 1984 she was appointed Commissioner of an enquiry that published a report of findings into violent atrocities in two of Cape Town’s townships – a role that would change her life irrevocably.

She told us of life in South Africa under her hero President Mandela and about the career that lead to her being appointed as Commissioner. She shared heartbreaking stories of the people who were brave enough to come forward to the Commission and she spoke of the death threats to her family that meant she had to leave South Africa immediately.

This articulate, passionate and principled woman came to Australia where she has just published her book ‘Brave Truth, powerful untold stories of the struggle for post apartheid freedom’.

Explaining why she had to write the story she said ‘It is for the silent voices who trusted us with the truth, who came, despite the very real threat to themselves, because someone had to listen, someone had to hear, someone had to care.’

And that’s why story telling is so important – it makes sure we don’t forget. It records history so there is a chance we might learn from it.

By Jane Fenton