Modern Day Griot

Modern Day Griot (1992)
Duration: 00:26:29

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Themes: Education and Families | Musical Roots and Branches | Religion and Spiritual Life | Africa and African-Americans |

Guests: Katherine Blackwell, Baba Inshangi
Host : Cliff Russell
Producer : Carlota Almanza

Summary: This program, broadcast in 1992, is hosted by Cliff Russell and is divided between a music-dance performance by the Ishangi family from West Africa and a presentation by Katherine Blackwell, an African American storyteller. The show illustrates the efforts of African Americans to explore - and to transmit to their children - the African roots of American culture.
The performance by Baba Ishangi and his family blends storytelling, humor, singing, proverbs, dance and music to introduce Detroit students to important cultural traditions of Africa. The Ishangi family's performance explores the connection between ecology and spirituality in African culture. Additionally, the Ishangi performance presents a humorous take on contemporary American rap music.

Blackwell tells the story of the Bogey Man. She uses the tale to help students understand their ancestral connections with Africa. She highlights the importance of exchange between Africans and African Americans to unify the two groups through shared cultural roots.

The program provides an excellent context for examining the efforts of contemporary African Americans to rediscover cultural and historical connections with an African past, broken during the 400-year period when millions their ancestors were taken as slaves to the Americas.