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Place of the griot in society: Ousmane Diouf shows us one of their still unknown roles

Mouthpiece of the spirits to the community and the envoy to the Holy Priestess in Yoff


The griot is a key element of society, he plays important roles, which are still little known to the non-initiated.


Indeed, it is recognised that the griots have always been poets, philosophers, mediators in disputes and advisors of those in power, a role reaching back into the ancient kingdoms.






But our mission, which focused on the role of the "sacred" in traditional fishing communities, was an excellent opportunity to discover another, extremely delicate, role of the griot.


This reminds us of other contexts, and by analogy, the complex function of some people, even in modern, contemporary administration.


This is, at least in the West African context, the Prefect: we sometimes do not know if he represents the State vis-à-vis the population or vice versa.



The Ndoep session begins with an incantation happening before the first day of the actual practice of this dance therapy.


The first day is the key to the entire duration of this ancient practice to the extent that it is not only to seek the authoriation from the Spirits to make the Ndoep.


It is also to invite the spirits to be present among the population, in order to free patients from the obstacles preventing them to recover their initial health status.




The acceptance of the Spirits, who have the key remedies and therefore determine the success of the Ndoep, depends on the ability of the Griot.


The Griot is specialised in sacred music (transmitted according to heredity) and in incantations, to communicate the right message and enter into perfect communion with these Spirits.




The Griot is the link, which alone can decodes the message transmitted by the priestess in order to pass it on to the Spirits.


But also, through the sacred music, he is the only one, who can ensure communication between the Spirits and the community.


Indeed, the incantations of the griot, and each rhythm played by the griot for the preparation and during the Ndoep, correspond to a specific Spirit.






It should be important to remember that the Lebu community is connected to many Spirits, some of which are located, according to tradition, in other coastal communities far from Yoff, such as Rufisque.


But we are always referring to Lebu communities still traditionally dependent on fishing.