Archive for the ‘Personal reflection’ Category

A Matter of Choice

Posted: August 16, 2012 by phermc10 in Personal reflection

As governments decide themselves to adopt an education of which curriculum is filled with western industrialideas, children and youth are trained to become industrial workforce instead of caretakers of local cultural values. Young people move into urban areas where industrial development exists, and as these industries are operating based on the highly competitive global economy on which they have little knowledge or control, they are very vulnerable to unemployment as well as loss of identity and self-esteem. The difference lies in the assimilation of community involvement in the education system which can make a difference for their survival.

What this western education does without being noticed is it degenerates local traditions and way of life from one generation to the next. The curriculum is copied from other industrial countries as it is easier to copy than invent one’s own. Therefore, these curriculums lack the kind of knowledge and values that regional and local communities need to hand down and survive. Then local neighborhoods are soon destroyed with pollution from industries in cities. Old people are left without any relatives to take care of them as the education causes out migration of their off springs.

How many parents are there like Mabo’s mother who wants her son to work in industries? Of course this is a trend with young people today in search of an education and a job. Yet take some time to think what your future will become. You will be stuck in a desk with a computer. You get home late and do not have a word with your children for a week who are also distracted in a virtual world. You switch on TV and watch the news of natural disasters around the world without feeling anything about the victims as they become so frequent. Before you go to bed and sleep, you call your parents living in your hometown to say decencies and good night. What a boring, routinized and robotic life it must be!

Thal Sandy Tun


Personal Reflection

Posted: July 19, 2012 by phermc10 in Personal reflection
Djeliba is a normal story teller to want keita to know his ancestor’s history. Therefore, he come to keita’s house and start talking the whole story of the keita’s ancestor until keita’s parents conflicted each other. Actually, He is not only telling a story, at the same time, teach some knowledge with the connection to the society. For example, in the movie, he told keita that why the hunter always beats the lion in stories and it is because it’s the hunter who tells the stories, but if the lion tell his stories, he(the hunter) would occasionally win, and think anything what you do, be confident in the future and the last one is the future emerges from the past. In my opinion, it means that whatever we do, we need to think over the past and be confident to do anything in the future. Therefore, I feel the movie give a some message that the past always have a connection the future in any condition.
by Thein Htike Win

Film Reflection

Posted: July 17, 2012 by thanhn09 in Personal reflection

Western scientific knowledge


Traditional knowledge

Honestly, at first, I found the story told by the griot really weird and unconceivable. How come a buffalo is in a disguise of a woman? How come a person was born to a buffalo? It somehow did not make sense to me.  Hardly had I discussed these things with my friends when I came to realize that the film was weird because I had seen in from the viewpoint that has been much affected by Western way of logics.  It turned out that I was the one who is weird by trying to understand African knowledge by using scientific, rational way of thinking.

Then, I took a look back on my own situation, and I realized that I am not much different from the boy in the film Mabo Keita. In Vietnam, we also have countless folktales and legends telling stories of Vietnamese history, culture and values., explaining the existence of non-living and living beings as well as natural phenomena.  They also contain a lot of details that seem to be so illogical from the perspective of scientific way of thinking.  Just like other Vietnamese, I got to know these stories through books, tale telling of the elder member in my family, and children programs when I was a liitle kid. I also learnt some of them in primary schools and junior high school. The strange thing is that I did not find those seemingly magic or illogical details awkward at all. In fact, I enjoyed them. However, as time goes, I grew up, entering high school and university later, cramming all the time with Western scientific knowledge, rational thinking, data and statistics, theories and models, and those folktales and legends “disappeared” from my life.  I hadn’t realized it at all until the talk with my friend as to how the film was so illogical to me.

I told such a long story just to show that how predominant Western knowledge has affected on my knowledge of Vietnamese traditional stories as well as my view towards kinds of knowledge that seemingly go against the principles of Western modern knowledge. I do not mean to put all the blame on the Western modern education with its rational, scientific characteristic. In fact, it cannot be denied that thanks to Western knowledge and technology, human being has made a great progress and consequent developments. However, it is time we gave a thought about the effect of the domination of Western knowledge over our community traditional knowledge in current curriculum and media products, and took a balance between two kinds of knowledge, isn’t it? Now, stories of young people, even the rich ones, saying they do not know who they are, what they are living for and such a thing are not a rare.  Is it because that they developed without a base of values, sense of identity, of belonging to a community? I think so. Every single of us was born, both literally and figuratively, and raised in a community and a culture, and one way for us to get connected to that community, or our origin, is through knowledge of that community. Given that now people tend to move around, either not staying permanently or never living in that community, and that any community is exposed to different cultures due to globalization process, the role of community knowledge in helping people to find back their origin and identity become more profound. Also, I think it is not right if young generations are not given access to that community knowledge in school curriculum and are even taught to attach priority to Western knowledge over tradition one.  Every kind of knowledge, irrespective of its birthplace, has its own value, offering different ways of seeing the world and relations within it. And isn’t it better for us to have diverse worldview rather than one single dominant Western viewpoint, which in many cases are not applicable to the reality at all?

In this globalization era, different cultures are non-stop interacting with each other and as a result, lots of people are getting lost among the chaos of cultures and values. Hence, even though the film takes place in the context of African countries in general, the situation shown in the film can be found in any community, and Mabo Keita is the image of anyone of us. The film’s lesson of valuing community traditional knowledge as the gate for sustainable, meaningful future of human being, therefore, applies to all communities in the world.

“ I teach kings the history of their ancestors so that the lives of the ancients might serve them as an example, for the world is old, but the future springs from the past.”  ( Griot Mamadou Kouyate )

Posted by Nguyen Thanh Hang.

The Film as a Source of Inspiration

Posted: July 14, 2012 by phermc10 in Personal reflection

The title of the film has two parts as ‘Keita’ and ‘The Heritage of the Griot’. What is the connection? ‘Keita’ is the family name of the royal kings of Mali where ‘the Heritage of the Griot’ is related to the bard responsible to tell stories and teaches. The connection is reflected as Djeliba Kouyate recounting the history of the name of the schoolboy Mabo who does not know the origin of his name and who his ancestors were. Djeliba is the only person who could do that for Mabo. We need people who can help us connect with the past. Without knowing the past, we do not know what kind of future we are building or whether it is better than the past or worse. Our pasts are packed with glories that have been destroyed by colonization.  Generations after that period are hopelessly disengaged from their pasts and lose their future in a dilemma.

Griot Djeli Mamoudou Kouyate teaches us a lesson through the epic: kings have prescribed destinies just like men, and prophets who predict the future know it. Kings map out the path to the future, where griots are depositories of the past. Whoever knows the history of a country can read its future. I feel that it is our duty to learn the past and invent the future based on the accumulation of knowledge at present. They do not happen or exist separately nor they can. Some traditions are to be maintained as steps towards a better future.  We still do not know whether we are born kings until we determine to find out.

Nowadays, griots work to foster youth education, sustain old cultures and build peace and mutual understanding among different peoples. Their focus includes helping young people to develop skills in communication, social and arts and thus they can exercise their talents and imagination and generate their own works that reach the audiences.Some interesting websites to refer are and

Thal Sandy Tun

In the film, Western schooling is not teaching anything about African history. Keita! pushes for a more  ‘Afrocentric’ education, where African tradition, not the imported Western standards  is the necessary for African development. Perhaps one of the most crucial aspects of education is that it should emphasize on roots and heritage – how they came to be. This can relate to similar discussions about schools in other regions of the world. To illustrate, in the highlands of Peru, schools are being directed by the central Board of Education. The materials being taught are too Westernized and in no way prepare them for their real life. Their Andean history and languages are neglected in the curriculum. These students and cultures struggle to make it in the upcoming world. How can history and culture be kept alive? How will the future generations survive in a world where reality constantly competes with fabricated standards and norms imposed from out of touch places. This is similarly portrayed in the Keita film.


Personal Reflection of the Film

Posted: July 8, 2012 by phermc10 in Personal reflection

The movie is a good example centering on the importance of ethnocentric education. Every society has an epic enriched and entangled with daily living, perceptions and values. The introduction of western education and development do not leave room for perpetuation or coexistence of national values or policy makers fail to recognize it. National language, cultural and religious events, literature and livelihoods are corroded as people neglect their own in the lure of new ones. During our childhood, our grandmothers and grandfathers are our griots like Mabo’s. They tell us about traditional characters, national heroes, and religious stories. They are meant to remain with us for life.

Westernization and modernization of our societies are different in their meaning according to Prof.Hideo Kishimoto. Westernization means complete replacement of national cultures by the western elements and their functional role is taken over while modernization is reframing a cultural system into new one without affecting its originality. We have to think about what role and how much space we can give our national elements while we are upgrading our society. It is insensible to allow western education without looking it critically. Personally, I thought a lot about after watching this film, especially Mabo’s mother’s expectation over her son working for a western company, having a good salary and a good life. This is what every one of us who are going to college dream about as education paves the way for it. Human mind is confined in this robot-like life. What will happen next?  People will accept McDonald as their national food, apes as their ancestors, computers as their friends, and surrounded by ugly machines. It is fearful, isn’t it? Men will not be the smartest animal if they become dumb to rethinking, questioning and revolving the forces of westernization for its dire consequences.

Countries who already gained development seem to have successfully maintained the awareness of the importance of national values to some extent but countries still in developing phase are bombarded with more aggressive western cultural invasion through communication information channels which create a gap between the know and not-know. They do not know how to handle the invasion without affecting the existing values. Young people are easily enticed by more active, open, bright and promising future vowed by western education. I accept the betterment of western education like medicine doing good if it is taken in right portion and right manner. It liberates a person, widening his horizon to a whole world. Therefore, it is not wise to restrict our vision only to get a good salary job through education. A good society can be attainable by a good education, that is a combination of both national and western knowledge, and can be sustainable.

Thal Sandy Tun

Personal Reflection

Posted: July 5, 2012 by phermc10 in Personal reflection

The movie shows historical West Africa and the West Africa that exists in the present day. Both story lines , the historical one and the modern one are initiated by a hunter who claims that he is just passing by. In the historical one he foretells the birth of Sundjata whereas in the modern one he tells the griot to go to Mabo to tell him about his history.  Another thing that can be seen in the movie is the the boy who is trapped in between the “Eurocentric” studies and his historical African knowledge. The griot gives him moral teachings about the destiny of human beings . On the other hand the teacher teaches him the creation of earth in a modern way. The entire movie is based on a quest where a child finds the meaning of his name.

Furthermore,in the movie the griot and the teacher have been turned into two different means of teaching the new generation. The two sides perceive themselves as competing interests,trying to shape the mind of the young Mabo. We can say that , in the end, the work of the Griot wins since Mabo himself turns into a teacher for his friends and starts telling them the story about his ancestors , but it is unlikely that he will turn his back on what he has learned at school.  According to the Griot, knowledge passes around generations and is passed on from the past to the center future.