Archive for June, 2012

Summary of the Film’s Story and Production

Posted: June 22, 2012 by phermc10 in Context of Film

The film is written and directed by Dani Kougate, produced in 1995. The film is about the 13th Century Sundijata Epic, the most widely known traditional narrative of West Africa, starring Sotigui Kouyate.

One day in a rural village of Wagadu in Burkina Faso, a griot, namely Djeliba, took a long journey into the city in order to begin the inculcating of the king’s decendant, a young boy named Mabo Keita to provide him with an enticing history of his ancestor, the Keita king Maghan Kon Fatta Konate, not that of gorillas explained by Darwin’s evolution theory in his school lessons.

Mabo soon began increasingly preoccupied with the story of the fates of Sundjata and his family, resulting in tension among his parents, his teacher and the story-telling griot. Mabo’s mother who considered Mabo to be successful only if he could master Western education was worried about the griot’s influence over Mabo’s performance at school and his future. His father on the other hand did not want to be stern towards both his son and the guest who he admired.

The epic tells of many adventures and misfortunes as it recounts he life of Sundjata Keita, the lion king who turned the land of Mande into the great trading empire of Mali. He was the grandson of Buffalo woman of Do. His father, king of Mande , was the leader of the royal Keita clan who was endowed with the spirit of lion. Sundjata was born lame to his ugly mother, Sogolon, second wife to the Keita king and had to withstand envy and oppression from the first wife of the king Sassouma Berete and her two children in their competition for the throne. The film ends with Sundjata Keita being exiled from the Kingdom of Mande as the griot was refused to continue the story for Mabo.

The film offers an insight into the dilemma facing many African communities in this fast-changing world to negotiate their pre-colonial history and post-colonial influences as they move towards modernization, industrialization and technological growth, especially in terms of education shaping society. The main theme is the value of an ethnocentric education as a way to preserve cultural heritage and identity in an age of impersonalized education and globalization.

Thal Sandy Tun

You can see the film in Youtube. It is divided into 7 parts with English subtitle

***For your further information:

Keita and Kouyate are the two clans existing in the real life, even up to now.  The Kouyate clan’s members are the griots, or can be simply called advisors, of the Keitas. The special relationship between the two clans first started when king Nare Maghann Konate introduce to Sundjiata griot Balla Fasseke, who would give advice to Sundjata during his reign. Balla Fasseke, therefore, is considered to be the very first griot and the founder of Kouyate griot clan today.

Nguyen Thanh Hang


This is not an ancient, forgotten form of storytelling to educate and keep the past alive. These methods are still being practiced and praised all over the world. It has evolved with us. New technologies allow us larger social networks. Through these means we are able to share and exchange our collective histories as well as our personal histories with more and more people. These advances are the mediums that educate and  keep our pasts and essentially our spirits alive.

Our Griot can utilize new technologies and medium to convey the messages, not only locally, but now to the entire world. Not only can the messages and stories be transmitted, using blogs and other social mediums can allow the Griot and the student to connect on other more personal levels. This also allows for the everyday or sometimes random knowledge to be expressed almost immediately.

Perhaps one might think that, that is part of the beauty of storytelling. That over time and through the course of the human mind, the story morphs, aspects of the tale are lost and/ or added on.  Traditionally, the story from the Griot was only presented to small groups and sometimes individuals, in an intimate setting. But, by way of these new mediums, perhaps the story is still allowed to morph, and that can be found in the many different interpretations occurring from the larger audiences. For example, a Griot might now have a website and regularly publish on a blog. This extension of the Griot makes up for that traditional intimate setting. The location for such relation has now moved into the virtual realm. And perhaps more can be shared…

I have been reading one Griots’ blog. Here is a quote from one of his almost daily postings:

Just to note: This Griot is very active. He is currently touring festivals and working as a Master Teaching Artist with the Orange County Performing Arts Center, designing curricula which fuse the arts with classroom instruction, and has presented in hundreds of schools and other institutions. There is much recognition for his creative uses of storytelling and his commitment to community.

Through out his blog, he records the events and happenings of his travels in real time.

“Why is it important to teach our children that they must be able to stand in a line?”

“All schools are not equal. That goes without saying and I don’t think many will debate the thesis, but there seems to be a shift in the equality of our expectations on our children. I visit more public schools than any other type. Occasionally a private school will bring me to their campus to share tales of my travels, music and even allow me to do a little storytelling every now and then. In every single public school I’ve ever entered, the importance of getting students to form and remain in “straight” lines has been an “entry-level” aspect of the meta-curricula. There are a host of other reasons why educators and parents deem it of paramount importance that our children be able to form lines but I’ll leave that to the more informed among us to expound on.” ( )


What Are We Doing? A FILM ANALYSIS !

Posted: June 11, 2012 by phermc10 in Introduction

This is a group project blog!


Our objective is to analyze the film Keita! The Heritage of the Griot from a standpoint that questions the current education system and its aims. Meanwhile, referring and connecting to our course materials. We have divided and assigned roles with in our group to maintain a focused and manageable process. Each member may contribute their own opinions and insights about the film or to other members work. Our goal is to be able discuss the context of the story outside of the consumer level and beyond the film as just entertainment.

Some Background information: We are a some group of five people in a lecture course designed to discuss the topic of Education and Society. We attend a small international university in Japan. In our environment here we are connected by our differences. We share and learn for one another about cultures, perspectives and how we relate. Working in groups challenges our own perspectives and cultures and prepares us the global society in the future.