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date: 01 March 2021


Professional poet-musician and storyteller in West Africa; known for a style of performance, typically accompanied by a string or percussion instrument.


Most griots are found in gambia, Mali, and Senegal. Within these countries, griots exist among the Mandinka (also known as Malinke) peoples, who are West African speakers of related languages in the Mande subfamily. Griots are also found among the Fulani. All of these societies share similar types of social organization and musical styles. The term griot is of French origin and is used in much of West Africa, although in many areas people tend to use equivalent terms from local languages. In some areas people use the related terms dyeli, jali, and gewel, which can be used interchangeably in some contexts. In Mali the Mandinka word denoting a professional musician is dyeli. In Gambia, Mandinka people call a male professional musician jali and a female professional musician jalimuso. Among the Wolof of Senegal and Gambia a professional musician is called a gewel The musical ...

A version of this article originally appeared in Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience.

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