Hear the Voice of the Griot!

I received this wonderful book from my sister-in-law for Christmas; it was just what I wanted.  This 404-paged book written by Betty Staley is a true gem and deserves to belong on every Waldorf educators’ bookshelf.   It is worth every penny!   The full title is “Hear the Voice of the Griot!  A Guide to African Geography, History, and Culture.” 

According to the Forward of the book, the “griot” of the title refers to the “storytellers of African culture who carried the responsibility of passing on traditions by word of mouth. They were the historians, the educators of moral behavior, who held the legacy of their people and captured the imaginations of the people in the villages.”  In the Introduction, Betty Staley herself expands this idea further by saying, “African have a very strong connection to the Word, to that which passes from one person to another.  The griot carried that responsibility.  Because African cultures have been strongly oral, word of mouth provided the lifeline of the culture.  The griots were oral historians who took responsibility for keeping alive all that had been known in the time before writing.  They often accompanied their recitations with the music of stringed instruments or a drum. The griot was often part of a king’s or chief’s court and told stories as part of the historical record of the people.  He passed on the culture from generation to generation.  More than that, the griot passed on the deepest aspects of the spiritual history of the people.”

The book is divided into seven sections as follows:

Section One –Geography

Chapter One: Longing  for the African Land, Chapter Two: The Baobab and the Acacia, and Chapter Three: The Cheetah, the Hippo, The Chimp and The Ostrich.

Section Two-African History

Africa-Its People and Its History, Chapter Four: Prehistoric Africa (including a biographical sketch of Louis Leakey); Chapter Five: History of Egypt and Ethiopia (including biographical sketches of Queen Hatshepsut, Piankhy, and Frumentius, Aedesius, and Ezana); Chapter Six: Great Kingdoms of West Africa (Ghana, Mali, Biographical Sketches of Sundiate and Mansa Musa, the Songhay Empire); Chapter Seven: Islam (including biographical sketches of Ibn Battuta and Ahmed Baba); Chapter Eight: Europeans in Africa (including biographical sketches of Shaka, Ann Nzinga, Cinque) and Chapter Nine:  The Awakening of National Consciousness in the Twentieth Century, including a biographical sketch of Nelson Mandela.

Section Three -Regions of Africa

Chapter Ten: North Africa; Chapter Eleven: West Africa; Chapter Twelve: East Africa; Chapter Thirteen: Central Africa; Chapter Fourteen:  Southern Africa

Section Four – The Inner Africa

Ancient African Spirituality; Chapter Fifteen:  The San View of Spiritual Life; Chapter Sixteen:  The Bantu View of Spiritual Life and Chapter Seventeen:  Ethiopia, the Seed of the Grail Impulse in Africa

Section Five – Fairy Tales, Fables, Myths, and Poems

Introduction to Section Five; Chapter Eighteen:  Fairy Tales; Chapter Nineteen:  Stories of Monsters and Ogres; Chapter Twenty:  Fables and Myths, including Anansi Spider Man stories from West Africa, Aesop’s Fables and Yoruba Myths; Chapter Twenty-One: More Stories; Chapter Twenty-Two: Counting Rhymes, Riddles, Proverbs, and Poems (including a biographical sketch of Wole Soyinka).

Section Six – Saints and Other Holy Figures

Introduction to Section Six; Chapter Twenty-Three:  Holy Men and Women including Christian Saints, Islamic Saints, and A Holy Man From African Tradition.

Section Seven – Other Aspects of African Culture

Chapter Twenty-Four:  Art of Africa,including Rock paintings, sculpture, masks, textiles, and African Art Experiences in the Classroom; Chapter Twenty-Five: Music of Africa; Chapter Twenty-Six: Songs of Africa; Chapter Twenty-Seven: Games; Chapter Twenty-Eight:African Foods.

This is just a fantastic resource for all ages.  There are suggestions for the teacher with every section, and suggested ages/grades for the stories and activities. 

Africa is a continent I want my children to know about.  I want them to be able to name the countries and understand about the different cultural groups living  there.  I have African friends and enjoy them and the culture they bring to my life. 

What are you doing in your homeschool to learn about the continent of Africa?

Just a few thoughts from my little corner of the world.

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5 thoughts on “Hear the Voice of the Griot!

  1. This truly is a fantastic resource. I too have a much treasured copy and only this morning I was mentioning this book to another mama and then soon after I came across your post about this. I was born and grew up in Africa and frequently visit my family there and I can tell you this book is great from my own African experience.

    Thank you for this review.

    Best wishes

  2. Pingback: Multiculturism in Waldorf Early Grades « The Parenting Passageway

    • Shawn – No, there are not really Old Testament stories in this resource. You would need a different resource for that…However, since this does cover essentially Kindergarten through High school, it is still a worthy addition to your library.
      Hope that helps!
      Carrie

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