Sunday, April 7, 2013

Circle Around the Baobab Tree

Dr. Johnson-Ross's lecture was really one of a kind. Hearing about her stories of traveling the world, living in 21 different houses, and many different countries in Europe showed how well learned she was about the different customs and traditions that can be seen in the various stories that we have been learning in the past few weeks. Dr. Johnson-Ross also showed a great amount of pride in the work that her sister and the traditions that her family was involved in. It was beneficial to the information that we learned because of the perspectives that she was able to provide, being part of the de-segregation movement and the life experiences she gained because of it. The progression of her presentation was very well set up and each piece of information lead to the next idea in African-American story telling. One of my favorite things that was discussed about African storytelling was the Baobab tree.
 This special tree has a very large trunk that the Africans used to gather around and tell various folk tales to the entire village, which they also built around the whole tree. The various storytellers were given the title of Griots and Griottes. These family members passed down the tradition from one to another, creating long lineages of storytellers, into what consists of the entertainment business of modern society today. These entertainers would sing tales in the form of songs, but they would either sing in the language of their home country or French. These modern griots and griottes could also have been historians, diplomats, translators, musicians, and/or teachers. In the olden days, the storytellers and their families were requested to live with and be supported by the royal families because of the value placed upon folk tales and tradition in society.
The differences between the folk tales that we have been reading and the folk tales that we discussed on Thursday would be the adaptation aspects. The German and various other fairy tales tales that originated from the same areas all have modern adaptations to them, to stay with the current cultures and societies today. The African stories had the same language, characters, and  morals that was used in the olden days.

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