Thursday, January 05, 2006
What's A Griot?
You may be wondering how I came up with the name TransGriot for my now two year old column and this blog. When I started the column back in January 2004 I wanted to come up with a name that reflects my ethnic heritage, the history that I'm trying to document and my love of writing. Then it hit me.
I come from a long line of historians in my family. I'm also a voracious reader. I recalled something that I'd read about the griots of Western Africa, the storytellers who pass on the oral history and traditions of their people. Some griots can recite up to 500 years of their people's history from memory. It is said that when a Griot dies, a library has burned to the ground. They are mainly present in the Western African countries of Mali, Gambia, Senegal, and Guinea. There are also Griots among the Mande, Tulkuloor, Wolof and Serer peoples and Mauritanian Arabs.
A Griot is not just a human library, storyteller and historian. They are all of these things and more. Griots are a visible and tangible human link to the past. They are someone who not only could be touched, but could touch you with stories and facts that enlighten you and others about who you were and are as a person.
That's what this blog's mission is. I am going to be your guide to a world that many people have not seen or heard about until now. I'm going to introduce you to your African-American transbrothers and transsisters. We've played a much larger role in the history of our people than you've been led to believe. I'll also comment on the general stuff that goes on around me from time to time, too.