Tallin Tallin

The Gambia,W.Africa

2014 - Present

Wonder Years Centre of  Excellence (WYCE)

Photographs by Eleanor Atkins


Tallin Tallin is a project based in The Gambia, West Africa, that aims to locate and document the rich oral tradition of storytelling, the stories told around African fires at night, the evening entertainment that captures the imaginations of so many adults and children.

Through sound recording, translating, transcribing, illustrating, printing and binding them as books to use as a Gambia-centric rather than western centric teaching aid in every primary school in the country; preserving them both digitally, live and in paper form before the generation that knows them passes and they are lost to this rapidly developing country forever.

The aim of this project is to revisit these stories, get younger generations listening to them again, and introduce them into schools, so creating a strong resource that celebrates local heritage and culture, encourages engagement with literacy, and has direct relevance to the people of The Gambia and their culture, landscape and society.

The idea of Tallin Tallin started in 2005, working with WYCE. I noticed that schools and libraries had many generously donated books from Europe and America, but none of these have a solid rooting or understanding for the landscape and the people of the places they are located. In The Gambia, Gambians have very few books and illustrated documents of their own stories. Oral story telling is the traditional way of relaying rich narratives to the younger generation. As younger generations are not living with their extended families and TV and radio are being introduced this form of storytelling has become rare.
As a child stories and poems were what sparked my imagination, they expanded my thoughts and creativity and encouraged me to explore and be curious. The landscapes I saw and read about in my stories were the same as those I would walk through on a Sunday afternoon with my family; I would run through and get lost in the same grasses and flowers that were depicted on the pages of my books.
In 2014 I started to collaborate with WYCE to make Tallin Tallin. I am delighted to be working with WYCE to make this important project happen.