For centuries, In the kingdoms of West Africa from Ghana to Mali, the history and traditions of communities moved forward through generations in the stories of the griot. Griots were storytellers whose knowledge and skilled storytelling provided cultural cohesion through narrative.
"Griots believe that their story can be traced all the way back to a common ancestor: a black slave named Surakata, who lived in Mecca at the time of the prophet Muhammad."
The importance of the spoken word can be found at the beginning of Sundiata: An Epic of Old Mali.
"without us names of kings would vanish into oblivion, we are the memory of mankind"
Malian kora player Toumani Diabate is from a griot family stretching as far back as 77 generations. He now plays with his son Sidiki who has taken the griot tradition in new directions collaborating with Malian rapper Iba One.