H/T EDL Buck
For centuries, griots have directed ceremonies, smoothed over disputes, and served as repositories of history and genealogy. Now in northern Mali they are out of a job.
By John Thorne, Correspondent / November 27, 2012
Down a street of red earth near the outskirts of the Malian capital, a family is preparing for the naming ceremony of its newest member – an event now forbidden in their northern home region by Islamist militants who seized control there earlier this year.
“They say sharia forbids it,” says Rakiatou Wallet Tannal, an aunt of the newborn girl, referring to Islamic law. “That’s their sharia, not the sharia of Muslims.”
The stricture hits especially hard for families like Ms. Wallet Tannal’s, part of a hereditary caste of bards and storytellers found across West Africa and commonly known by their French name, “griot.”