Meeting a Mandinka griot
We are travelling overland from Europe, across the Sahara, ending up in Guinea Bissau in Western Africa, in our first year at DNS. We have nick named our journey “Into the Otherness” since our mission is to meet people and learn about their reality and culture. Passing trough The Gambia we visited Alagi Mbye and his family.
by Guendalina, Egle and Gianluca, DNS2017
“The past is what we are. The tradition is what of the past is still valuable for the present. In order to represent a guideline for the future, it is necessary to constantly question the traditions but, first of all, to know them.”
This is the authentic dialog between different cultures and this is also what we, Guendalina Marzulli, Egle Simukenaite, and Gianluca Maggi, tried to do during our The Gambia investigation thanks to Alagi Mbye, a modern Griot who introduced us to the old mandinka culture.
Follow our adventure at our Facebook page. 🙂
A griot is a West African historian, storyteller, praise singer, poet and/or musician. The griot is a repository of oral tradition and is often seen as a societal leader due to his or her traditional position as an advisor to royal personages.
To choose the path of teaching took me some time, I must say. It started on my very first 1st of September, this is the day when the school year starts in Lithuania. I simply loved it. And I am not talking about the lessons and tests, but about all the kinds of people I got to interact with and about the learning process that was happening there, somehow in between lessons most of the time. Though I was in love with the school and Summer holidays always seemed too long of a break, I never thought I will become a teacher. It is now, when I reflect, I see lots of sense in my actions and choices that led me to choose this profession.
Imagine you had to make a list, a catalogue, of all that exists. Where would you start?
You would probably look around, and start to name or to write down everything that you see or that comes to your mind. Soon, you would come across some dilemmas, and start to notice that it is not always so easy to establish what exists and what doesn’t. Do feelings exist, since they are not seen in the material world but just experienced internally? Probably yes, you would say. But then, do fictional characters exist, since they are not seen in the material world but just experienced mentally? This is a bit more challenging. Another dilemma: is a chair something that exists on its own? Or is it rather nothing but the sum of the pieces of wood that it is made of? Then maybe we shouldn’t include chairs on our catalogue of all that exists, it is enough to write ‘wood’. But following this line of thoughts, isn’t wood just a sum of molecules, which in turn are just a sum of atoms? Shouldn’t we then just write ‘atoms’ in our list? As you might have observed, the catalogue is very much subject to interpretation: a particle physicist’s catalogue will probably end up looking very different from your very own catalogue.