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From Under the Baobab to the Haunted Oak: The Reemergence of a Distinctly African-Derived Griot Tradition in the Americas

Mwatabu S. Okantah


It will be the aim of this essay to discuss the following: 1) the historical struggle of Black writers to define a Creative Self and the meaning of our work in the American context from the creators of the Slave Narratives to the present; 2) the location of my own place within this struggle for cultural definition; and, 3) the emergence of what I will call a new literary griot tradition in contemporary African world writing. I will attempt to identify the aesthetic connections that spring from the now classical roots of the original forms of cultural expression enslaved Africans forged out of the furnace of American slavery. The folklore, spirituals, ring shouts, folk seculars, the blues, the jazz, and the dances continue to exist as the foundation for our creativity in the present. It is through our forms of cultural expression that we continue to remain connected to the larger Pan-African world.

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West Africa Review. ISSN: 1525-4488 (online).
Editors: Adeleke Adeeko, Nkiru Nzegwu, Tejumola Olaniyan and Olufemi Taiwo; Book Editor: .

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