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Griots originated in the 13th century in the Mande empire of Mali.For centuries they have told and retold the history of the empire, keeping their stories and traditions alive.

Festival In this video…Children at the SOS Children’s Village in Tema, Ghana are having a festival.

They tell their stories to music, using instruments such as the ngoni, the kora or the balafon. A kora is a 21 string lute which sounds like a melodic harp.

A griot trains for years learning to play the kora and listening to elder griots telling their stories.

Like the instruments I play, my heritage offers a distinctive twist on traditional expectations.

The Keita name links me directly to the Mandinka kings of the 13th century and as a descendent of these kings, I would not normally have been allowed or expected to play the kora, a skill reserved and handed down primarily within West Africa’s griot families.

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