Heritage Focus – Griots


Thursday Heritage Focus from Floorspace Realty –You reliable property matchmaker.


Though the arts of story-telling is common with visible traces among many African ethnic groups, a more famous and respected members of society with glowing influence and relevance are undoubtedly the Griots, they even evolved into a hereditary social caste.


Dating back to the 13th century, the griots (pronounced) gree-oh, also known in some cultures as jeliw are famous narrators of oral traditions, storytellers, historians, poets, genealogists, advisers and musicians. Due to the relevance of these roles in the life and traditions of the African they remain prominent across generations and cultures from the Mande Empire (present-day Mali), responsible for preserving ancestral records through oral storytelling.


The griots have passed down epics of the Sahel through songs and stories, with colourful and melodious sculptures about the lives of heroes, heroines and other legends and how they relate to the lives of their audiences.


At the recent burial and celebration of the life of Ghana’s Ex President Jerry John Rawlings, the  children’s tribute was read by his elder daughter Hon. Zanetor Agyemang-Rawlings their names originate from climacteric exploits of historical figures such as Amina, Yaa Asantewaa, Kimathi while Zanetor is influenced from events surrounding her birth.


Thus while late President Rawlings chose naming to celebrate and extol these important personalities, with a far reaching expectation of the children to be copy versions of those named after. The Griots however use storytelling laced with musical instruments to achieve the same, so the arts of music without mincing words is an art which permeates through the heart of all African.


We are happy to tell that current happenings in Ghana especially the recent elections and its related registration exercise and Covid-19 pandemic has received great attention by musicians such as Hajia Police, Kofi Kinaata, Shatta Wale, and the rest.


To this end, posterity is not bereft with relevant happenings and most importantly reasons which occasioned certain traditions, beliefs and culture in general due to the artistry of storytelling by the Griots and other similar personalities and groups across many African communities. So, the relevance of music in our daily activities and preservation of memorable happenings, and other celebrations throughout the course of time are due to a deliberate and fine tuned work of arts which should be accorded a higher reverent altitude than what we are seeing currently. Our next write up will look into certain suggestions on “why our musicians are not getting their due in terms of sound monetary returns and respect as compared to those from other regions or countries”.


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