Performer / Storyteller
With his roots as a theatre actor and dramatist in both Tanzania and Canada, Tololwa is a writer and performer of stories. He performs for all ages, sometimes solo, and other times with co-performers. He has taken part in Thousand Faces festivals over the years as a storyteller and story performer, actor, and playwright. Two of his plays have been performed at the Thousand Festivals in the past: “Anthem of Life”, in a workshop production in which he acted; and “Urashima Taro”, a play adaptation of an old Japanese story. “Anthem of Life” is a play adaptation of part of Anthem of the Decades, a massive poetic work by the late Mazisi Kunene, a distinguished South African poet, scholar, and folklorist. The work features and reimagines the elaborate and labyrinthine creation mythology of the author’s Zulu people of South Africa. A revamped, expanded, and re-envisioned version of that workshop play will become Part One of a trilogy adaptation, to be completed within the next few years, that will cover the vast entirety of Anthem of the Decades, with planned productions at future Thousand Faces Festivals.
Tololwa is also author of internationally published books for the young and the young at heart: 18 in English, and 5 in Swahili, the national language of his native country of Tanzania in East Africa. Among his books are the Governor-General’s award-winning The Orphan Boy; My Rows and Piles of Coins and Big Boy, both winners of the Alberta Writers Guild children’s books award; and From Lands of the Night. Grazing Back Home is his latest children’s book that resulted from his collaboration with musician Garth Prince and painter and illustrator Jason Blower. The book is a multimedia creation that combines story, art, music, and audio narration; the story is narrated by Obianuju Mollel. Some of Tololwa’s books and stories have been translated into several Asian, African, and European languages including Zulu, Xhosa, Sotho, and Afrikaans; Korean; and Serbian, Norwegian and Spanish.
Besides his children’s books, Tololwa has published nonfiction work and several short stories for adults, and has written several plays, and a body of stories for his solo performances. He has also written stories for performances by others. One such story was The Twins and the Monsters, which he wrote for the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and which the ESO has performed, with narration and music, numerous times over the years. The story was also performed by orchestras across Canada and in the U.S. Tololwa has written and performed stories in Swahili for a Swahili radio program by Edmonton-based Kiswahili Learning Centre, a program designed for Swahili speaking listeners in North America and beyond.
Tololwa has been spreading his passion for story, performance and writing to the young and old through story workshops, performances and presentations in Alberta schools and communities.