Excellent film showing value of Afrocentric education
This film is a marvelous way to show the dichotomies between Europeanized West African education and a traditional form of West African education (initiation). At the same time, because all of the main characters are muslims, it implicitly shows that synchretism does eventually change cultures and create new ones.
At the beginning of the movie we see a spirit incite a griot to awaken. Then the griot travels to a city where he visits a family specifically to speak to the youngest member of the family to do his work of passing on the story of the young man's name (Keita). The young man is so entranced by the long story that the neglects his schoolwork and this is where the conflict begins. In the meantime we see the difference in behavior between the young man's parents and the griot (Westernized versus traditional from eating methods to sleeping preferences).
The griot's ensuing discussion with the schoolteacher is itself worth seeing the movie for...the schoolteacher does not know the meaning of his own name yet is charged with teaching young children the "knowledge" they need to succeed. The question becomes what sort of success? This film shows the merits of Afrocentric education without preaching and also entertains.
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