Sundiata:  An Epic of Old Mali

Sundiata: An Epic of Old Mali

by Mamadou Kouyaté

This epic - part history, part legend - is a great adventure story. Other tellings can be found under "all editions," each credited to its respective storyteller.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Cultural
  • Rating: 3.61
  • Pages: 101
  • Publish Date: April 13th 1995 by Pearson
  • Isbn10: 0582264758
  • Isbn13: 9780582264755

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What paltry learning is that which is congealed in dumb books!says Mamadou Kouyaté, the griot, or oral storyteller, who's reciting this story. It's the 800-year-old story of Sundiata (pronounced Soonjata), the greatest king of Mali and the greatest conqueror since Alexander. Here's the story: this one king is ordered by prophecy to marry this ugly lady, the ugliest hunchback in the land, which he does but she refuses to fuck him until finally he says whoops my bad I'm actually supposed to sacrifice you, not fuck you, and she gets so scared she passes out and then he fucks her while she's passed out, so, like, good plan? Meanwhile the evil sorcerer King Soumaoro takes over Mali, defeating cowardly Dankaran Touman. Sundiata returns to Mali to defeat Soumaoro. It has African touches - like, when envoys from Mali are searching for hiding Sundiata, they pose as merchants selling Malian produce (gnougnou), waiting until someone is excited to buy it. That's a weird thing about oral tradition, right? It was an exciting story; it was interesting to compare it to other medieval epics, with which it shares a remarkable number of similarities.

Tous les coqs expirèrent sur le dos face au ciel : les génies avaient répondu favorablement." Enfin, par dessus tout ce livre est un bel hommage à l'art du griot, cet homme de Sagesse indispensable dans les sociétés ancestrales et encore aujourd'hui qui détient comme le dit si bien DT Niane "la chaire d'Histoire dans les villages". En effet, le griot est le maître de la parole les sociétés africaines privilégiant la tradition orale accorde une importance sans précédent à cette castre.

What you learn in this saga is how important the carriers of history are considered in these pre-literate societies.

Sundiata: An Epic of Old Mali D.T. Niane wrote this oral tradition down into words in 1960 in order to portray the story of an African king by the name of Sundiata. In his preface, Niane notes that one of his main purposes for writing the book was to keep the knowledge of the story clear and to define these traditions explicitly for the future generations of kings and of griots in the new Mali of Africa. The story of Sundiata begins with the king of Old mali, Maghan Kon Fatta, being told by a soothsaying hunter that he must marry a hunchback woman for their son would be the savior of their country. Some examples are the immediate biases of Niane, taking this oral tradition right out of old Mali heritage and writing the story without changing any of the information based on outside sources. While there was some information mentioned in the books notes section about Soumaoro Kanté, Niane left massive gaps about the reasons this sorcerer king was evil, creating a very biased outlook for the end of the story.

Sundiata is an important oral tradition for the eyes of historians, as it shows vital ideas that emerged in this African culture and gives historians a look into a culture and civilization that is not often talked about. The emphasis on the story-teller at the beginning, and being mentioned throughout the tale, emphasise how important tradition- and history-keeping was to this culture; Not just history, but their history. Set in the golden age of Mali, this tale is an exploration of African culture; A doorway to a civilization that the world doesnt often speak of.

Sundiatas birth this a consequence of sorcery and transformation much like King Arthur and Gesars. Also like Gesar (and sort of Arthur) he is exiled, where he wanders and learns the skills needed to rule. Unlike Gesar and Arthur, this version doesnt have a downfall - he is more like Gilgamesh, another King of legend, who learns how to rule well.

Honestly, I was never excited about this text; but as I began to read the story line captured me.