Africa, Part 1 | A World of Poetry


In Africa, the djelis (pronounced "jay-lee"), or storyteller, uses poetic rhythms and expression to tell stories. Like the Greek poet Homer, the djelis memorizes poems and is part of an oral tradition that has lasted for thousands of years. The djelis is more than an entertainer, he is considered a historian, teacher and religious figure.

An important part of the African oral tradition are "praise poems." These poems are sung as praise for an important person, animal or idea in the life of the poet.

The following are praise poems from Leaf and Bone: A Collection of African Praise Poetry.