Why The Griot?


Have you ever felt as if we don’t belong here? The story of the Griot sprang into my mind because, like a lot of African Americans, I was fed up. I began to think, what if black people left America. Not all, of course, but a group, like the Black Israelites. What would a migration like that look like? Where would these people go? What type of people would go?

I know America is home. I know America was built on the backs of my black ancestors, and we have every right to be here. Most of us have no desire to live anywhere else. I agree that we must fight continuously for our rights, but with recent events, I wonder will that fight ever be over.

The Griot is a story that takes place 200 years into the future. The people who live in the Kingdom of Za are the descendants of African Americans who left the U.S. because they were sick of fighting, sick of the injustice, and sick of trying to persuade people to treat them with basic humanity.

What I think is interesting about the Kingdom of Za is the radical approach that the founders took in creating this all black world. They are in Africa, but instead of going to modern cities like Nairobi, Johannesburg, or Cape Town, they form a settlement in the Serengeti. I’ve been to the Serengeti and it is no joke. Even for the native people, like the Maasai the Serengeti has its hardships. So for people who never lived there, it would probably be very deadly very quickly. By choice, the founders of Za allow only one piece of modernity, and that is clean running water. That’s it. There’s no electricity.  No modern healthcare. There are no cars. Just homes that the community builds themselves, food they grow themselves, and clothing they produce themselves.

Why live in such a treacherous world if there are other options? The founders want the settlement to be as close to a pre-slavery Africa as possible. Za is an intense social experiment in which the goal is self-love, community, healthier lifestyles, strengthening the black family, and the black marriage.

Za, however, does not become the utopian society that the founders hoped for. Along with the dangers of living in the wild (disease, infant mortality, and predators) the people in Za are human, with human desires, temptations, jealousy, and secrets.

All of this and we haven’t begun to talk about the secret society of the Griothood.  I’ll save those women for another post.

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