Sunjata: A West African Epic of the Mande Peoples

Overview

A pillar of the West African oral tradition for centuries, this epic traces the adventures and achievements of the Mande hero, Sunjata, as he liberates his people from Sumaworo Kante, the sorcerer king of Soso, and establishes the great medieval empire of Mali.

David Conrad conveys the strong narrative thrust of the Sunjata epic in his presentation of substantial excerpts from his translation of a performance by Djanka Tassey Conde. Readers approaching the epic for the first ...

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Sunjata: A West African Epic of the Mande Peoples

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Overview

A pillar of the West African oral tradition for centuries, this epic traces the adventures and achievements of the Mande hero, Sunjata, as he liberates his people from Sumaworo Kante, the sorcerer king of Soso, and establishes the great medieval empire of Mali.

David Conrad conveys the strong narrative thrust of the Sunjata epic in his presentation of substantial excerpts from his translation of a performance by Djanka Tassey Conde. Readers approaching the epic for the first time will appreciate the translation's highly readable, poetic English as well as Conrad's informative Introduction and notes. Scholars will find the familiar heroes and heroines taking on new dimensions, secondary characters gaining increased prominence, and previously unknown figures emerging from obscurity.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Thanks to his careful editing and translating of Condé's narrative, Conrad offers a highly readable version of the epic that is about a third of its original length. The translation communicates not only the poetic qualities and the essential events of the Sunjata legend but also the master bard's performance values. Thus, this rendering will fascinate those who already know the story and culture and those coming to the epic for the first time. Conrad provides an excellent introduction to Mande oral tradition, the role of the griot, and the Manding belief system. Though he makes no claim for this as the complete scholarly edition, he does provide helpful scholarly notes, a glossary, and a good bibliography. . . . Summing up: Highly recommended. --L. W. Yoder, CHOICE

This is an important resource for college teachers who would like their students to read a text which more fully resembles an oral poem and which communicates a richer, more complex, and more compelling version of the Sunjata story. . . . [This] version . . . is much more worthy to be placed among the great epics of world literature. It is eminently readable for students and instructors who are willing to give it the same kind of attention they give to Homer translations. --Robin Mitchell-Boyask, Temple University

Conrad offers a great deal for students and instructors, with a solid Introduction which provides the context and history of the epic, a note on Mande nomenclature, maps, an epilogue, and a glossary of important names and terms. This is truly one-stop shopping for the Sunjata epic. I think Conrad's book will be a classic. --Konrad Tuchscherer, St. John's University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780872206977
  • Publisher: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/1/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 896
  • Product dimensions: 5.42 (w) x 8.42 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

David C. Conrad is Professor of History at the State University of New York, Oswego, and President of the Mande Studies Association.

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Table of Contents

Note on the map of the Mande Heartland (map A)
Map A : the Mande Heartland and related Jamanaw
Map B : West Africa and area of detail according to oral tradition
Episode 1 Blessings, introductions, and prophets of Islam 1
Episode 2 Seven kings of Manden 4
Episode 3 The search for a special wife 9
Episode 4 Two hunters arrive in Manden 21
Episode 5 Do Kamissa the buffalo woman 30
Episode 6 Do Kamissa's revelations 39
Episode 7 Death of the buffalo 46
Episode 8 Sogolon Wulen Conde of Do ni Kiri 52
Episode 9 A new sorceress wife for the Mansa of Konfara 59
Episode 10 The childhood of Ma'an Sunjata 74
Episode 11 Step-brother rivalry and nine sorceresses of Manden 78
Episode 12 Mistaken murder and the question of exile 82
Episode 13 Departure for exile 89
Episode 14 A visit to Soso 91
Episode 15 The birth of Fakoli 95
Episode 16 How Tenenba acquired Fakoli : Sumaworo's quest for the Soso Bala 97
Episode 17 The sacrifice of Kosiya Kante 107
Episode 18 Tenenba and Fakoli visit the sacred sites 112
Episode 19 Sumaworo's tyranny over Manden 118
Episode 20 The expedition to find Sunjata and return him to Manden 123
Episode 21 Kolonkan finds meat for guests from Manden 127
Episode 22 Manden Bori's anger and Kolonkan's curse 129
Episode 23 Sogolon bestows the legacy of Maghan Konfara 131
Episode 24 The burial of Sogolon and departure from Nema 140
Episode 25 The return of Sunjata 146
Episode 26 Conde pride and descent from Adama 149
Episode 27 Fakoli reveals his power 153
Episode 28 Fakoli explains his dilemma and takes his leave from Manden 156
Episode 29 Fakoli finds trouble in Soso 158
Episode 30 A visit to Kamanjan in Sibi 169
Episode 31 A strategic alliance : Kolonkan's marriage 173
Episode 32 The battle of Negeboriya 175
Episode 33 Trading insults and swearing oaths 177
Episode 34 The battle of Dakajalan and Fakoli's revenge 183
Episode 35 The campaign against Jolofin Mansa 187
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