African Oral Storytelling in the Digital Age

In this session, Melisa Allela presents her research exploring the intersection of traditional African folktales and fables with new and emerging technologies. She questions the limitations of legacy media and discusses how leveraging the affordances of newer technologies can create new tellings and retellings of orally told stories while maintaining the performative, participatory, and communal elements of live oral storytelling. Specifically, she shares her experiments with animation, Virtual Reality, AI-Driven Virtual storytellers, and Generative storytelling using Large Language Models.

By showcasing her findings, and by extension the work at LESO
, Melisa offers her perspective on how such tools can be used to create immersive experiences that honour oral storytelling traditions while bringing them into the digital age.


Dr. Melisa Achoko Allela is an Interactive Media designer and Lecturer at the Technical University  of Kenya. She also dabbles as an illustrator, animator, researcher and eLearning specialist. Her creative and research work explores the convergence of experimental animation and emerging technologies in storytelling. Her current focus is on how such technologies can be used to digitize works of African orature, and thus contribute to safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage. 

She is the co-founder of LESO Stories, an interactive media studio that interrogates how new and emerging technologies can be used to retell stories that richly exude African aesthetics and ways of telling. 

She is a winner of the Digital Lab Africa 2020 (Immersive Realities category); recipient of the 2019 HEVA Cultural heritage seed fund and a 2018 Mawazo PhD Fellow. She looks forward to the tipping point moment for women in tech and their increased participation in the fields of Animation and Interactive Media production.

This talk is hosted by the Nairobi Digital Humanities Roundtable founded by Ng'ang'a Wahu Muchiri