Griots Hold the Culture of West Africa

February 13, 2012
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The sights along a West Africa cruise are stunning, but it is the famed culture of the region that brings an added sense of richness to expeditions in this remote area.

Along the Niger River are buildings with unique mud architecture, fishing villages and livestock farms. However, it is the stories that have been passed down from generation to generation that add color to these landscapes.

Fulani griots are the keepers of these stories in West African culture. They encompass cultural knowledge that has been passed down and continue the cycle by retelling the information in poems, songs and stories.

Griots are West African masters of word and music. They have been around for more than a millennium, comprising their respective cultures' historians, genealogists, entertainers, messengers and singers.

Griots of the Fulani people are not different than those of many other nearby cultures, but the Fulani people have been described as the "gypsies of Africa," according to a documentary project completed by an American Peace Corps volunteer and a Fulani. However, Fulani traditions vary widely from region to region, and the culture occupies land from Cameroon to Senegal.


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