Connecting Generations through Stories (LS-ME-531)

This Learning Scenario introduces participants to the griot storytelling tradition in West Africa and makes them reflect on the importance of the dialogue between generations in the construction of personal identity. 

Moving from the discovery of West African Griots and the storytelling tools (kora, balafon, ngoni), participants will reflect on objects and stories related to their family. Moreover, they will analyze African myths, touching key points of African culture.

The role of Griot and storytelling tools: kora, balafon and ngoni

Griot and his wife play Kora, Erik Martinsson, 1968, Etnografiska museet, Sweden

The first part of the activity, introduces participants to some aspects of the African culture, engaging with the objects through an inquiry-based method. 

They will discover the role and function of griots with images and songs.

Secondly, the museum educator will introduce the musical instruments played by Griot during their performances (kora, balafon, and ngoni) through images and sounds.

The Learning Scenario offers two options, one that can be implemented in the museum setting and the other one online.

Outcomes of the activity

The aims of the activity are:

  • to make children reflect on the importance of their own community and family history in the construction of their identity,
  • to let children learn about Griot and this particular aspect of West African tradition,
  • to spark curiosity and create connections among them and the older generation, through the sharing of family stories,
  • to strengthen children’s storytelling and 21st-century skills.

Online stories…

Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Learning Scenario was implemented in the online version. Despite this, participants liked it a lot and said they had fun and learned new things. Some of them even expressed the wish to be able to come personally to our museum to discover some of the objects shown during the activity.

After a brief welcome session, children discovered through some shared images the role of stories and myths in Africa, as well as that of the griots. Then, they discussed the musical instruments’ shape, color and materials.

They had a chance to use Europeana to look for more related musical instruments images, sharing them on Padlet and expressing feelings about their sounds.

Hands-on activity: to be a griot for a day

At the end of the laboratory, I introduced the offline activity by talking about contemporary griots and inviting children to become storytellers as well, interviewing family members and sharing stories with different tools and in different ways (drawings or photographs, audios, written stories).

Would you like to know more about this Learning Scenario? You can download it below:

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CC BY 4.0: the featured image used to illustrate this article has been found on Europeana and has been provided by the Etnografiska museet.

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