How This TikToker Used A Centuries-Old Black Tradition To Captivate Millions

boundou griots illustration
Briona Lamback
March 5, 2024

"Who TF Did I Marry?" kept us all on the edge of our seats. For nearly 10 hours of straight-to-camera storytelling, TikTok user Reesa Teesa hooked millions of viewers and went viral in February for sharing her personal story about love, betrayal and truth in a captivating way – carrying on a centuries-old Black tradition.

Griots are storytellers who are highly respected culture keepers in many West African cultures. They're also genealogists and historiographers, because they share and pass down tales, usually through the spoken word. 

It's an inherited role passed on through generations and a tradition we've carried and kept for centuries.

With each story passed on, the roots and lessons stay the same, but details relevant to the time are added. Many of these stories are so detailed that they often take days to recite.

On plantations in the Americas, griots used songs and satire to mock enslavers, express their feelings, and preserve memories, even through trauma. To some historians, spoken word poetry and hip-hop are diasporic continuations of the griot tradition using story-keeping and telling, music, and poetry to document and preserve our culture.

From griots to front porch conversationalists to rappers, we've long known the power of sharing and preserving our stories, and it's a tradition we must continue.

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