Griot Celebrates West African Culture Through Music and Dance

August 29, 2017

Bucknell's Griot Institute for Africana Studies marked its fifth year with an opening ceremony that "epitomized the spirit of the griot," said Director Carmen Gillespie, invoking the West African term for storyteller. Gillespie, a professor of English, invited Akwaaba Traditional African Drum and Dance Ensemble to open the new academic year because of the performers' expertise in "telling a story through rhythm and dance," she told a crowd of about 75 adults and children who gathered on the Science Quad at Bucknell on Aug. 26.

Garbed in sumptuously colored Kente cloth, the five men and one woman from Ghana took the audience on a rhythmic tour of West African culture, from Ghana to Guinea to Senegal. They closed out their 90-minute performance by inviting the audience to participate in a call and response to which they added music, then dancing. They concluded the celebration by inviting the audience to join them in learning a simple African dance.