Sundiata (ca. 1210-1255)
The Mali Epic of
- Late 13th, early 14th c.
Things to Consider:
Piety / Duty / Devotion
Treatment of Women
Powerful People "in Disguise"
Physical Strength vs. Mercy/Intelligence/Emotions
See List of Characters (Note: Some names may be spelled slightly differently)
** Homework Questions ** See Part Two Q's
What Disney Movie is (loosely) based on this story?
With which two religious figures is Sundiata most directly associated? Explain.
What is a griot? Why does this griot introduce himself?
Why do the brothers "give" Sogolon Kedjou to Maghan Kon Fatta?
How does Nare Maghan "conquer" Sogolon?
Why is Djata not made king when his father dies?
Explain: "Man, under the influence of certain illusions, thinks he can alter the course which God has mapped out, but everything he does falls into a higher order which he barely understands" (113).
Explain: "The multitude loves and fears strength" (113).
(See also "The people love all who assert themselves over them" (120)).
Explain: "The snake seldom bites the foot that does not walk" (114).
Why does Sundiata accept exile?
Other Discussion Questions:
What is narrative?
What is the hajj?
What is the difference between restrictive and nonrestrictive oral narrative?
What is an epic?
Explain the significance / purpose of the African praise song or poem.
Why is Sundiata considered "the son of the Buffalo, the son of the Lion" (103)?
Who is Bilali Bounama?
Who are Maghan Kon Fatta and Sogolon Kedjou?
Who are Sassouma Berete and Dankaran Touman?
Why does the hunter give a leg to Maghan Kon Fatta?
Explain the hunter's prophecy.
Who are Oulamba and Oulani?
Who is the Buffalo of Do?
Why does she tell the hunters how to kill her?
Why has she been ravaging Do?
What is a wraith?
How does the treatment of the Buffalo after her death compare with that of Hector and the Bull of Heaven?
Why is there a storm when Sologon gives birth?
Explain the naming ceremony.
What is the child's name?
Why does Nare Maghan "debar" Sogolon from his house?
Who is Balla Fesseke?
Why does Sogolon hit her son?
Who is Alexander the Great?
Why does Dankaran Touman send Balla Fesseke away?
How does Djata "win" at wori with Mansa Konkon?
Explain: "Modesty is the portion of the average man, but superior men are ignorant of humility" (119). Do you agree?
What is "booty"?
** Part Two Homework Questions **
What is a jinn?
What is a fetish?
Explain: "Kings are only men, and whatever iron cannot achieve against them, words can" (122).
Why does every king want a griot?
Who is Soumaoro Kante? How does he compare with Gilgamesh?
Who is Fakoli Koroma? Why does he defect to Djata's side? How does this scenario compare to that between Agamemnon and Achilles in the
How does Sundiata "pay" for his mother's burial plot? Explain the symbolism of his offering to the king.
How does Djata defeat Soumaoro?
Why does Sundiata destroy Sosso?
What kind of king is Sundiata considered to be?
Other Discussion Questions:
Why does Dankaran send his sister, Nana Triban, to the king of Sosso?
Explain: "Whoever knows the history of a country can read its future"(122).
How, according to Konyate', has writing "killed the faculty of memory" (122)?
Explain: "Sosso was the bulwark of fetishism against the word of Allah" (122).
What does it mean to defile a family?
Who is Moussa Tankara?
Why can't Djata defeat Soumaoro at this time?
Why does Soumaoro tell Nana Triban the secret of his success?
What is a Tana?
Explain: "I am the word and you are the deed" (130).
Why must Djata listen to what his ancestors have done?
Who hates Soumaoro more, Djata or Fakoli? Explain.
What happens to Soumaoro?
Why does Sundiata shave the heads of the young men of Diaghan?
What is the moghoya-dji?
Explain: "The day you are fortunate is also the day when you are most unfortunate, for in good fortune you cannot imagine what suffering is" (141).
Explain: "Mali is eternal" (143).
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