Tag Archives: Griot

The Griot

Three paintings of a griot in three different phases of praise-singing, accompanied by his talking drum.

Above the din of everyday culture — from the spontaneous chatter of the marketplace to the polyphonic rhythms of the traditional shuttle loom, anvil or pestle — rises the acoustic poetry of the West African griot. If it is through the beautiful cacophony of the day-to-day that people assert the present, then it is by …

The Power of Words

Painting of faces, some listening, some speaking.

The ‘word’ in West African cultures, once loosened from the lips as if drawing back the strings of a talisman pouch, diffuses a special force, the primal energy of creation itself. To speak is to exhale an active essence, Oro according to the Yoruba of Nigeria and Benin. For the Mande — ranging from coastal …