What a great reason for blogging! It comes from a young man named John-Claude Futrell, AKA Panama Soweto, who is emerging as the spokesman and host for podslam.org. Here’s the context, where he describes what a “griot” is. To me it sounds like what goes on in the blogosphere:
A griot is defined as a person, usually from West Africa, who keeps the oral tradition of a culture. They are the storytellers and gossipers, the conspiracy theorists, and blabbermouths, the speakers and the poets. Our spoken word artists are our griots of the 21st century. They speak to us of their pain, their triumph, our gains and our losses, they function as political analysts, teachers, psychologists and friends.
I write for a very selfish purpose, I want to feel as if I am not alone. So when I’m in front of a crowd I want to feel like I am telling a story that people can relate to, can feel. Poetry can be therapeutic for all involved, and life should seem a little easier with narration, shouldn’t it? We can give explanation when there was none before. Without our poets our lives could be described as a sum of circumstances, with them we can tolerate the harshness of the world that we live in.
Best First Blog Post Ever.
I believe that is the first blog post Panama ever wrote – his previous posts have been short introductions of other PodSlam poets. Have you ever heard a better first post than that?
Each of the PodSlam poets answered some interview questions, including why they chose their stage name. Panama’s answer:
So they call me Panama Soweto. And I took the name Soweto as an attribute, as a stage name for a couple of different reasons. Probably the most important and most interesting reason to me is that I got my degree in African American studies from Metropolitan State College in Denver and while studying there I got to learn a lot about the township of Soweto in South Africa and the actual trials and tribulations that had to go with freedom from apartheid. The things that Steven Biko and Nelson Mandela went through. And, one of the things that made apartheid visible to the rest of the planet was the riots or the murder in Soweto of twenty-six children. I teach, so I believe that children are the only way that we can bring change into this world. And with that I just thought that Soweto would be a real good attribute to use because, you know, I am trying to change myself. Nobody’s perfect.
The first name, Panama, just kind of came from the dichotomy of what I am and what I’m not. A lot of people growing up didn’t know whether to call me Dominican or Puerto Rican, and yada yada and this and that, so I got a whole bunch of nicknames and I got teased once and the name Panama came up and so I kept it.