Ongoing Research: African Oral storytelling using Embodied Conversational Agents

Lawino the Virtual Storyteller

Part of an ongoing doctoral research project that explores storytelling using experimental animation techniques. 


Lawino the Virtual Storyteller

Using the iconic Song of Lawino by renowned Ugandan Poet Okot P’ Bitek as a research example for reenactment using ECAs, I illustrate that applying these performance elements and techniques can result in a new digitally embodied oral narrative that mimics the unique relationship in traditional African orature between a storyteller, the space in which the story is told and the audience.




Works of African orature, owing to their performative and participatory nature, are challenging to reproduce in written text, or as linear media in audio or video formats (animation or live action). This has created a research gap in virtual heritage

research where emphasis has been placed on digitalization of tangible culture. This work examines the implication of bodily, expressive non-verbal characteristics of performance in traditional African oral storytelling to position their mediation in digital media formats using Embodied Conversational Agent  (ECAs).