Griots and griottes - Thomas A Hale

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Title
Griots and griottes - masters of words and music
Author
Thomas A Hale
format
Paperback / softback
Publisher
Indiana University Press
Language
English
UK Publication Date
20070731

On May 17, 1967, the American writer Alex Haley went to Juffure, a village in The Gambia on what was once the western fringe of the Mali empire. There he met a griot, or jali, who recounted a story about Haley's roots in Africa. Haley was trying to reconstruct his past, an African heritage which had been nearly erased by the slave trade and the experience of his African-American ancestors as slaves. Haley used some of this information to write Roots, which appeared in 1976 and led to an explosion of interest in geneology in the United States and other parts of the world. The television version of the story drew the largest single audience in the history of American television. Roots II, a sequel showed how Haley went about the research for the book, and many viewers saw a Mandinka jali, or griot, for the first time, the late Alhaji Bai Konte, playing the role of the man who told Haley the story about Kunta Kinte.

Roots introduced griots to the world outside of West Africa and generated an enormous amount of interest in their profession. Griots and Griottes is the first comprehensive portrait of the world of this profession, starting with their discovery by the outside world in 1352 by a North African traveler, Ibn Battuta, up to the time of Alex Haley and the present. Griots in their multiple roles and functions are unique to Africa. They play many roles in society-geneologist, historian, spokesperson, diplomat, musician, teacher, warrior, praise singer, master of ceremonies, and advisor. Griots and Griottes, based on over thirty years of research and travel in Africa, tells the story of these remarkable wordsmiths and performers.

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Thomas A. Hale is Professor of African, French, and Comparative Literature at Pennsylvania State University. His publications include an edition and translation, The Epic of Askia Mohammed (Indiana University Press, 1996).

Hale . . . provides here an encyclopedic introduction to and overview of this ubiquitous and important West African figure. . . . a valuable addition to the literature on both African societies and the African Diaspora. Upper-division undergraduates and above.October 1999
Choice

[Reveals] griots to be much more complex and multifaceted social agents than previously understood.
African Arts

[Puts] the study of West African oral tradition on a higher level.
International Journal of African Historical Studies

Thomas A. Hale's clearly written, informative work is a comprehensive historical and contemporary account of the griot phenomenon, which originated in West Africa. ...It is, in its entirety, of benefit to a variety of researchers from fields as diverse as history, music, anthropology and sociology, linguistics and literature.Volume 11.2 & 3, Spring 2010
African Studies Quarterly

[An] encyclopedic introduction to and overview of this ubiquitous and important West African figure . . . . [A] valuable addition to the literature on both African societies and the African Diaspora.
Choice

Thomas A. Hale's clearly written, informative work is a comprehensive historical and contemporary account of the griot phenomenon, which originated in West Africa. ...It is, in its entirety, of benefit to a variety of researchers from fields as diverse as history, music, anthropology and sociology, linguistics and literature.Vol. 11.2-3
Spring 2010
University of Swaziland - Karen Ferreira-Meyers

Hale's magnum opus is an invaluable reference for scholars in religious studies, history, music, anthropology, linguistics, and literature.
Religious Studies Review

Type
BOOK
Keyword Index
Griots - Africa - History.|Oral tradition - Africa - History.|Storytelling - Africa - History.|Laudatory poetry, African - History.|Folklore - Performance - Africa.
Country of Publication
United States
Number of Pages
410

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