m2Griots are a caste of people within Mande society who are responsible for the maintenance of oral traditions, both local and epic, in speech and song. Mande society (defined by a related group of languages) includes such modern ethnic groups as the Bozo, the Soninke, the Malinke, the Bambara, and many other peoples currently living in Mali, Senegal, Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire and neighboring countries. Within court structures, griots supply a legitimizing narrative of rulers’ genealogies and retain memorized records of their deeds. Today, many members of griot families have become pop stars both within West Africa and internationally. Others, at a more local level, perform at marriages and at the parties of wealthy local businessmen and civic leaders — singing the praises of their hosts in return for financial contributions.

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