Our Story Your Story


“A people are as healthy and confident as the stories they tell themselves... Stories can conquer fear, you know. They can make the heart larger.” – Ben Okri

OUR STORY YOUR STORY (OSYS) is a Clowns Without Borders South Africa (CWBSA) project that aims to build bridges within and between communities in South Africa through autobiographical storytelling. We work with participants across racial, gender, religious, and generational lines.

In 2014, in celebration of 20 years of democracy, we created a platform for youth and elders to tell their true-life stories. Storytelling has immense power to build connections between individuals, between generations, and between the past and the future. 

OSYS gives voice to the marginalised through the art of personal narrative; increasing community cohesion and promoting positive change in individuals and whole communities.

OSYS engages participants in an interactive storytelling workshop process where they are guided to identify personal narratives, craft them into stories, and share them with each other. The process culminates with public events designed to share these stories with the greater community.

The platform was piloted in Nyanga, Cape Town, from February through April 2014. We worked with elders from Ikamva Labantu and youth from Safety Lab’s Nyanga Yethu Project.  


In 2015 we have embarked on the next stage of the OSYS journey. This ambitious project aims to bring the process and its benefits to a wider group of participants and a larger audience. This expansion will take place over three years in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, and Kwa-Zulu Natal Provinces. We took the leap this year in the Western Cape.

“I was guided here. I had pushed all these things down. There were times I would put my memories in the back of my mind and push them down, but this helped me to remember. When I first joined, I thought, ‘what am I going to do with this story thing?’ Then I started to remember when my granny told me stories by the fire. There are so many stories that I am now telling. The story I told, I never told my grandchildren. It was sad, so I put it in the back of my mind. But recently I told them for the first time. I wish my grandchild could come here and listen. I made many new friends, especially the youth.” – Elder participant from pilot in 2014

For more information on how to have OUR STORY YOUR STORY come to your community, contact us at info@cwbsa.org or 031 368 1912.

Please support this project by making a donation today!