The Griot Essay

Submitted By mitraci2002
Words: 2566
Pages: 11

the Griot This paper is dedicated to the almost forgotten by his own, and unknown from most of the rest of the world. It is so natural to have a bit of knowledge about the ancient Greek philosophers, or theater in general in the western world. This remark can be made in both the western and the southern hemisphere, but when it comes to the griot, the general question is: who is that? This is not a surprise to me since even Microsoft word auto correct tried to alert me of an unknown word as soon as I typed it. So let’s start by shedding some light on who this individual called griot if a man or griotte if a woman is. One location on the map for their origin would the western part of the African map. The cast of griots was founded and developed in the midst of the eighteen century, a time frame when writing was solemnly used in the religious field. For the griot or griotte was the holder of the oral tradition. Griots are called DJELI in Mande country also known as Mali, and GUEWEL in Senegal. One important element about the griot caste is that no one becomes a griot through special training just as we study theater to become actors, a griot is born, not made. The becoming of griot is through the bloodline. The initiation to the techniques start at a very young age, and done by the elders in a length of seven years. Griots do get married only within their own caste, as a way to maintain the balance and the secrecy of the information obtained during training. Many events have led to the slow death of the griot glorious days. It is clear that that in the “actual West African Diaspora narration, a postmodernist and decentered narration has replaced the unified and conservative voice of the traditional griot”. (akoma, Indiana University press). This sends us to the question of the origins of this slow death of the prevalence of the griot. According to many writers, this slow death is related to the treatment the griot received from his/her entourage. Sory camara in his book titled “Gens de la parole” backs the idea that the griot life was not all glamour but shame and misery. Another group of writers attribute the dying of the griots to the meeting between western and African culture and the pressure and slavery and colonization, here represented by Chinua Achebe writer of things fall apart. After exploring the arguments of each group with prominent writers, I will come with a syntax that suggests that the reason of the diminishing rate of griots is related to the adherence rule, which is to say that if anybody could have access to the training of being griot; the survival rate would have been much higher. In order to make things much more understandable, let’s first go the state of empires during the eighteenth century, especially the one of the Mandingue. There was in existence a system which was counterbalancing the traditional life style: it was the system of status: acquired status and lost status by conquest. Back then war was a tool which was giving opportunity to anyone to come to power, but also to fall in slavery, or even die from the enemy. This ongoing warfare atmosphere was at the core of the creation of heroes from different origins. The slaves could become the war leaders and ministers in the royal court. Slaves had more chances to become leaders compared to nobles. This is why slaves were the ones who made possible the expansion of the Mandingue Empire. So the warfare state in a sense was putting an infinite interruption to the traditional distribution of status. it remains some truth in the fact that many other individuals found their path to power through the success they earn in trading, which in turn made them rich and capable of having a saying in the process of filling new political and social positions. During these perpetual changes, a caste remain an observer and a judge, this is the caste of griots. The griots were having different roles. For instance some of them were