Once a year in a small village deep in the mountains of Mali, members of the Mande community gather around the world's oldest balafon to hear the folk stories of their traditions. The sacred instrument, known as the Sosso Bala, is made of wood and looks like a xylophone. It transmits traditions from the 13th Century that keep this distributed community tethered together through space and time. The man playing and singing is a direct descendant of the original storyteller and king. He holds all the knowledge of their world and its history: a one-stop-shop for everything to do with the Mande people. Most of us don't have a musical instrument that ties us together, but we will have someone in our lives who's the keeper of the knowledge. Often, it's a matriarch -a grandmother, a mother, a great aunt - who, out of interest or a sense of responsibility, keeps all our stories ready to tell upon request.
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