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balla_1French students and world music aficionados are in for a treat this Thursday when Balla Tounkara, a griot and master kora player from Mali, visits Milton to perform and work with students.

In West African tradition, a griot is a member of a caste who maintains an oral record of tribal history in the form of music, poetry and storytelling. The kora is a traditional 21-string bridge harp unique to West Africa.

Modern Languages faculty member Laurence Huughe says Mr. Tounkara’s visit “reflects our commitment in the French program to also focus our studies on French culture and language outside of France.”

Milton’s French students are regularly immersed in the Francophone culture outside of France. Ms. Huughe teaches French 5: Francophone World, in which students are studying the history of colonization and the role of French language in African culture today. In French 3, students have been reading a collection of West African folk tales; and in French 2, students watch and discuss the movie Kirikou by Cameroonian director Michel Ocelot. Mr. Tounkara will work with many of these classes during his visit.

On Thursday, October 27, Mr. Tounkara will perform a concert in Straus Library at 7:30 p.m. His visit is made possible by the Francine L. Bustin Memorial Fund. Established in 1985, the Fund brings French scholars, lecturers, teachers and artists to campus to promote French language and culture.