Cultural values and Sundiata
The epic of Sundiata begins with the introduction of the griot, and narrator Mamadu Kouyate. Throughout the epic, the importance of the griot is stressed numerous times. When speaking of griots Mamadu Kouyate states that, “we are the repositories which harbor secrets many centuries old. The art of eloquence has no secrets for us; without us the names of kings would vanish into oblivion, we are the memory of mankind…” (Niane). It was through oral reciting that the epic was passed along for generations. Though in today’s society, information has taken on new mediums, it is just as important to the culture of today as it was to the culture of the Mandingo . Cultures change, but many of the things that comprise them remain constant.
One of the elements of culture that has changed very little in value is religion. One can derive from the epic the importance of religion to the people of the Keita Dynasty . Specifically, the religions of Islam and Traditional African Religion are alluded to throughout the epic. In one of the first references to the Islamic religion Sogolon Kedjon, Sundiata’s mother, states that “the fortified town of Sosso was the bulwark of fetishism against the word of Allah” (Niane 41). Previous to this statement thought, the reader is bombarded with illusions of sorcery, witchcraft and prophets. In the culture of old Mali, the two belief systems coincided somewhat, but both were still used. It has been offered that, although Islam was a major component in the creation of the old Mali, it was only used as a myth to legitimate the divine powers of the ruler . This might help to explain why Islam is alluded to so late in the epic, whereas traditional African religious themes are recurrent throughout the epic.
A very large part of Traditional African Religion in old Mali is predestination of fate. The narrator does not allow one to forget the ever important ro...