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
In addition, many of the elements of the epic that gave it appeal hundreds of years ago still give it appeal today; it is what makes the epic great. Most all of the characters in the epic that are hunters or warriors are viewed as virtuous members of society. Many of the ideals in the epic can still be identified with in today"tms culture. Ahmed, Ali Jimale, and Markovitz, Irving Leonard. It is this belief that encompasses The Epic of Sundiata. Though one does not encounter Nana Triban"tms character until late in the epic, she as well uses her mental strength to forward Sundiata"tms cause. When her weak brother, Dankaran Touman gave her to Soumaoro, the nefarious conqueror against whom Sundiata was fighting, she outwitted him by gaining his confidence and exploiting it. Sundiata even goes far enough to say that, "a woman trembles before a man"tm" (Niane 32). The men in the epic view women as weak. In doing so, Sundiata Keita sets the example for the people of his culture to follow. In the culture of old Mali, the two belief systems coincided somewhat, but both were still used. The Mandingo people also marveled at Sundiata"tms ability to hunt and his prowess in battle.