Statement of Sona Jobarteh

What are the most important aspects of the Griot?

The Griot tradition is a deep and complex one. Some of the most recognised roles of the griot are musicians, historians, advisors, poets, praise-singers, genealogists and spokespersons. To this day the Griot still plays a central role in cultural ceremonies within the Mande regions of West Africa. 

How is the Griot tradition changing?

The Ancient Griot traditions are inextricably tied to the social structures and social practices of the times. Although there are many aspects of the old society that still exist today, the role of the Griot has necessarily changed with the shift in social practices and structures. This means the role of the Griot has changed over the centuries as society as changed, however traditions are not static and we must find ways to encourage these traditions to continue in new ways in order to ensure they are not abandoned.

What can the Griot tradition contribute to the future?

The traditions of the Griot are not only highly valuable aspects of Manding society, but are also representative of the diverse and complex nature of African cultural systems found across the continent. The tradition serves as powerful, ongoing vehicle of cultural identity, it teaches future generations about the rich content of ancient traditions, and reinforces cultural ties which transcend imposed geographic boundaries.

What are the lost values of the traditional culture that the Griot people regret today?

There are increasingly fewer youngsters taking up the practices of the Griot in modern times. Many turn to artforms and styles coming from overseas, especially as they feel that it may give them more of a voice and provide a way to connect to more contemporary affairs. Much of the older generation desire more youngsters to carry the traditions forward into the future seriously.

Which importance does she see in the museum and to whom would she recommend the visit?

The Africa Online Museum is important because it opens up a new approach to cultural preservation and dissemination. It is an unlimited resource, providing equal access to all. It can also be a powerful tool for African students to be able to learn more about other African traditions and cultures across the continent, all in once place. I would recommend this online museum as an important resource for educational institutions across the continent of Africa.