Thursday, April 4, 2013

African-American Story-Telling Tradition

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I found that Dr. Johnson-Ross' lecture on African American story-telling traditions to be very interesting on an information level, but that is not why I enjoyed it as much as I did. What made her lecture so awesome to behold was how she talked about the subject. It was very apparent that she took great pride in this, and there is great reason for that. Dr. Johnson-Ross grew up throughout the Civil Rights Movement, was in the first desegregated high school class for her school, and her sister is very active in the African American literary community. It is one thing to talk about something you have knowledge about, but it is a whole different thing learning the same exact information but from someone who has the passion behind it from what it meant to them and still means to them as it has shaped them throughout their life. It is like when Dr. Esa talks about things that pertain to German culture or folk beliefs. You can just see how personal it is because it is a part of who he is. Anyway, the lecture was really sweet hearing all of how things were done with the passing on and the telling of the stories. The people and places are very important when it comes to the oral tradition. Within the community, the stories would be told around the ginormous Baobab Tree.  The Baobab Tree is a giant tree that grows in Sub-Saharan where tribes would build their villages around, making it the center of the village. The people who would tell these stories were usually the Griots and Griottes. These people were the Oral Traditionalists, among many other things such as historians, diplomats, translators, musicians, and teachers. They were supported by the local ruling power to preserve the culture of the people. This is where I feel as though there is a difference between the European folk tales and African inspired tales. In European culture, the tales reflected the zeitgeist and adapted to what the culture was at the time. With African tales, they seem to be more preserved from a past time and a remembrance of what the tales and culture was, kind of like what the Grimm brothers and Perrault did. Furthermore, I feel as though there were more direct themes to origin like stories in the African tales. Like the European tales, animals play big roles. However, in the African tales, there were more how the animals came to be, for example, the story of the alligator and how he got his little back bumps.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the presentation and I feel like I learned a lot

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