I have always enjoyed data collection and assessment, education, and wellness (more on that later). So back in 2016, I did a market research survey when I was developing this concept. The results indicated that I needed a word that symbolized the aspects of having products that showcase beauty in diverse cultures. And I needed a word that explained the beauty of telling a story, your story, your heritage.
Enter Griot. Pronounced “GREE-OH”, not “GREE-AUGHTS”
So a Griot in West African tradition, sometimes called a Jail or Djali, is an oral historian, the person that shared your family’s history and passed it down from generation to generation. Oral traditions were important especially if other forms of communication/language were being taken away from the people.
By the way, a female Griot is a Griotte (funny similarity to the GrioTees company name).
There are many Griots among us. If you are a poet, you’re a Griot. If you are a storyteller and write, you are a Griot. If you are a teacher, you're a Griot. If you are a musician and you use music to convey a story, you are a Griot. If you are a rapper, you are a Griot. I’ve come across many links of rapper MosDef (now Yasiin Bey) connecting him to being a modern day Griot. In my opinion, a griot could be that family member that knows all the traditions, and knows about every member of the family.
So combine that concept of a Griot with the concept of communication, connection, and language. That is the purpose of these tshirts—it tells a story about the person wearing the shirt, whether it is the language that they themselves speak, or a language they appreciate, or a language that they themselves want to learn. The shirts are the educators, the ambassadors of language and cultural connection—and helps to expand interest in African languages. And hopefully that reinforces cultural pride and worth that can hopefully lead to overall wellness. There you have it. GrioTees.
p.s. There’s a Griot connection to Wakanda, the land of Marvel’s Black Panther Movie from 2018. I’m not a comicbook head but if you are, please provide more info. Apparently Shuri, King T’Challa’s tech-savvy sister, met with some Wakandan Griots. I would even go as far to say that Forest Whitaker’s character in the Black Panther movie, Zuri, was a Griot in Wakanda. (Funny enough, I wonder if they based Zuri off of the Swahili name for beautiful which is Nzuri, which is a part of the GrioTees collection. Hmmm, some body get Chadwick Boseman on the line…I have some questions. Lol)