Griots and a New Direction for Fantasy: Background information when reading Raybearer

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Raybearer

by Jordan Ifueko

Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko X
Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko
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     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Aug 2020, 368 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 3, 2021, 400 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Michelle Anya Anjirbag
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About this Book

Griots and a New Direction for Fantasy

This article relates to Raybearer

Drawing of Sengalese griotIn Jordan Ifueko's fantasy debut Raybearer, Mbali, one of the Emperor's Council of Eleven, is identified as a griot – "a singer of histories and stories, the most sacred of Arit priests." Griots are not a literary invention, but an incorporation of Ifueko's Nigerian heritage into her fantasyscape, along with tutsu sprites and the culture of the Yoruba.

"Griot" is one name of many for a West African historian, singer, storyteller, poet or musician who sometimes also acts in an advisory capacity to a ruler. Griots are living repositories of culture, who carry, remember, recite and pass on oral histories through performance. While there are different instruments that griots might use while performing, Mbali uses a talking drum, a West African instrument consisting of two drumheads connected by leather cords. The novel's protagonist Tarasai is given a similar drum, an ancient artifact, inscribed with the words "The truth will never die, as long as griots keep beating their ...

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