Journalist @baltimoresun writer artist runner #amwriting Chaplain PIO #partylikeajournalist

Journalist @baltimoresun writer artist runner #amwriting Chaplain PIO #partylikeajournalist
Journalist @baltimoresun writer artist runner #amwriting Md Troopers Assoc #20 & Westminster Md Fire Dept Chaplain PIO #partylikeajournalist

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Not everyone appreciated my story, “Carroll made great by many who have recently passed away.”

Not everyone appreciated my story, “Carroll made great by many who have recently passed away.”
February 1, 2017 Kevin Dayhoff

As will happen from time to time, not everyone appreciated my story, “Carroll made great by many who have recently passed away.”

I am not into Facebook arguments – see I like discussion and encourage folks with other points of view to share their thoughts with me. It is a relatively new “Facebook concept” that folks do not like others with whom they disagree. I like my friends, whether they agree with me or not. I am so easy. I like anybody who is nice to me.

Anyway, at least one reader really objected to when I wrote that, “When an old man dies, a library burns to the ground” is an old African proverb.

Usually I ignore comment trolls. I simply do not have the time to respond. But this one struck a nerve. The column was from the heart. And besides, it brought back memories of Dr. Earl Griswold’s anthropological and sociology research at Western Maryland College – see all the wonderful things I learned in the Westminster United Methodist Church MYF - Methodist Youth Fellowship and the many-many lectures and programs at Western Maryland College in the 1960s… Folks and places that I recall where and when I was introduced to the concept of “When an old man dies, a library burns to the ground.”

So I wrote on the Carroll County Times’ Facebook page, I’d like to thank everyone for their feedback. I appreciate this opportunity to shed some addition light on an important topic in a storied Carroll County that is rapidly changing.

From the comments below, it appears that many folks understand the thrust and theme of the story. I felt extremely sad when I wrote the piece and actually it was my editors who insisted that I have the story published. I am indebted to them.

For those I failed to reach, I apologize. Genevieve Frost wrote, “‘old’ African saying. This saying originated in 1960. Stop virtue signaling and rewriting history.” In a subsequent comment, Ms. Frost remarked, “Stating that something is old when it is not, isn't an opinion, it's misinformation.”

Well - - at an l’UNESCO conference in 1960, Amadou Hampâté Bâ, (1901– May 15, 1991,) an eminent Malian intellectual, writer, and ethnologist referred to the old African proverb when he said, “Un vieillard africain qui meurt, c’est une bibliothèque qui brûle.” - “In Africa, when an old man dies, it’s a library burning.”

This, according to multiple media sources, including, “Cahiers d’études africaines,” 1965, and Cote-d’ivoire by Dominique Desanti, 1962, “Selon la fulgurante formule d’un ethnologue malien, Amadou Hampâté Bâ: ‘Chaque vieillard qui meurt, c’est une bibliothèque qui brûle.’”

Actually what the distinguished ambassadeur du Mali à Abidjan paraphrased is indeed an ancient West African proverb. Much of the history, customs, and traditions of West Africa are in the form of unwritten oral history. And when an elder in the community dies, the community suffers a great loss of institutional knowledge, wisdom, and insight into our treasured customs and traditions.

My story was an appeal to folks to talk with older family members, colleagues, and community leaders before it is too late. It is an ageless universal appeal to interview our elders, learn from them – and record their stories.

The reference in my story, to the proverb “When an old man dies, a library burns to the ground,” was to provide me with a written vehicle to make the point that many of the eminent community leaders who passed away in Carroll County last year were quite elderly and profoundly wise. Although I had an opportunity to interview several of them while they were alive, I just wish that I had taken the time to get them to sit down for a recorded questions and answer interview.

This was the focus of the lament many of us felt when we gathered to pay our respects to Woody Swam and gathered in a circle to tell old Carroll County stories from many years ago, that will sadly be lost without a concerted effort to document them.

You just cannot “Google” this stuff. There is something lost in the translation… Some of the stories about state’s attorney Bryan McIntire are the stuff of legend. Annie Hoff carried forward Carroll County farming traditions from well into the 1800s. Dave Schaeffer was distinguished Carroll County businessman that stood witness to enormous changes in Carroll County.

I use the old African proverb, “When an old man dies, a library burns to the ground,’ often in memorial services, in my capacity as a fire, military and police chaplain.

The saying is also used by American historians. I often remember it in the context of southern gothic literature in relationship to the sadness of a community when an elder passes away. Tennessee Williams described Southern Gothic as a style that captured "an intuition, of an underlying dreadfulness in modern experience."

In Carroll County, the subplot, the dog whistle, if you will, is that with the death of many of these individuals; passes a certain Carroll County way-of-life that is going away forever. This concept is greeted with a certain dread by many in the community.

Although, the Carroll History project coordinated by the Community Media Center and developed by the Carroll County Public Library, Carroll County NAACP, the Human Relations Commission of Carroll County, the Historical Society of Carroll County and the Carroll County Genealogical Society has attempted to address the importance of capturing Carroll County oral history; much more remains to be done.

A big thank you to everyone who read the column and gave me positive feedback. The column was from the heart. God Bless.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.