Keita: Heritage of the Griot

Task: Select one of the following questions and respond in a well written essay of at least 500 words. Please include the prompt as a preface to your essay (the prompt does not count towards the word count).

Keita: Heritage of the Griot

1. Parallel Stories. Director Dani Kouyate’s film Keita parallels the contemporary story of Mabo Keita and the past story of Sundjata, Mabo’s illustrious ancestor. Identify two significant similarities that tie the stories of Mabo Keita and his ancestor Sundjata together in the film; illustrate each identified similarity by describing/citing specific example/s from the film; and explain why you think these similarities are significant to notice and examine in helping us better understand and interpret the meaning of the film.

<link is hidden> vs. Modern Education. Djeliba and Mr. Fofano come into direct conflict over the best education for young Mabo Keita, with Mabo torn between the two. Identify two significant differences between the traditional education offered by Djeliba and the modern education offered by Mr. Fofano in the film; iIllustrate each identified difference by describing/citing specific example/s from the film; and explain why you think these differences are significant to notice and examine in helping us better understand and interpret the meaning of the film.

<link is hidden> Film’s Open Ending/s: The final scenes of the film Keita leave the stories of both past and present heroes Sundjata and Mabo Keita at turbulent crossroads without their griots to guide them in making difficult choices that will shape their futures. Of course, audiences familiar with the “Epic of Sundjata” know the choices Sundjata made and the outcome of his heroic story (read how the epic ends here (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.). However, the modern story of young Mabo is left open and conflicted at the end of the film. Explain why you think director Dani Kouyate chose to end his film Keita this way. In doing so, comment on these questions: What is Mabo’s conflict at the end of the film? What difficult choice/s lie ahead of him and where might he find help? Do you think the rest of Sunjdata’s story predicts the outcome of Mabo’s story?

<link is hidden> do you make of Director Dani Kouyate’s statement? : “Most people speak about the shock provoked by the encounter of modernity and tradition. For me, this shock does not really exist. There are two parallel realities, and we are in between. And this is the problem. Sometimes we are traditional, sometimes we are modern without ever having achieved to integrate the two in an intelligent way. And this is why we have to take the bull by the horns” (Gavron and Reinwald, cited in Agatucci, 3.2 “Keita Film Notes & Viewing Guide.”).

<link is hidden> writes history?: The Sundjata Epic, like Keita (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. itself, necessarily presents only one version of history. The griot reminds Mabo of this when he asks, “Do you wonder why the hunter always wins against the lion? If lions wrote stories, don’t you think they would win some time?” How does this comment refer to the way the history is been interpreted? Of course, the griot is also calling into question the authority of the story he is telling. Should we always inquire into who is telling a story to understand its particular perspective on history? To what extent do you think all history is in essence myth, so that we are left to chose which interpretation is most relevant or even therapeutic to our present situation?

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