Tohio! Hia hia, hia hia kpo! *
African Storytelling comes to life wherever you find African Stages. Dancing, singing, drumming, acting, costumes, masks and the great storyteller Comfort Ero, bring traditional and contemporary African arts to gathering places, festivals, libraries and theatres in the Greater Vancouver area and across the country.
African Stages Association was officially incorporated in Victoria, BC in 1997 although Comfort was telling stories long before then under the name Zibota African Moonlight Theatre. The society was formed as a way to aggregate all of the various activities that Comfort was delivering in the community and region. She had already published books of her stories, for which she won awards. She was telling stories with great regularity to the delight of many audiences in universities and schools, and she was also publishing short stories, articles and poems in literary journals all over the world. The formation of African Stages was, and continues to be, a hub for Comfort’s vision of building community through African wisdom and creativity, as well as building a rightful place for African artists to create and perform for everyone.
*Tohio means: Come quickly, I have a story to tell! Hia hia kpo means: tell it, we are listening. When you come to see Comfort tell a story she will always begin like this.
While growing up in her native Nigeria, before video games and television, telling stories was the way in which families were entertained in the evening. A storyteller would alert everyone with a cry of “tohio!” and the listeners would gladly reply “hia hia, hia hia kpo!” which means “tell it, we are listening!”. We hope you will remember to do this at the next show!