After a good evening meal, with the moon shining
down, the people of a village in ancient Africa might hear the sound
of a drum, a rattle, and a voice that shouted, “Come hear, come
hear!” These were the
sounds of the griot, the storyteller.
When they heard the
call, the children knew they were going to hear a wonderful story,
with music and dancing and song!
Perhaps tonight the story would be about Anansi,
the little spider!
Everyone loved Anansi. Anansi could
weave the most beautiful webs. He was the one who taught the people of
Ghana how to weave the beautiful Mud cloth. Anansi had a good wife,
strong sons, and many friends. He got into many a mess, and used his
wits and the power of humor to escape.
There were other
stories the people loved to hear over and over. Some stories were
about the history of the tribe. Some were about great wars and
battles. Some were about everyday life. There was no written language
in ancient Africa. The storytellers kept track of the history of the
There was usually
only one storyteller per village. If one village attempted to steal a
storyteller from another village, it was cause for war! The
storytellers were that important. The griots were not the only people
who could tell a story. Anyone could shout, “Come hear, come
hear!” But the griots were the
"official" storytellers. The village griot did not have to
work the fields. A griot's job was to tell stories well.
A thousand years
later, new stories about new triumphs and new adventures are still
being told by the village Griots today!