Conflicts in the Novel "Segu"

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Controversies and conflicts are many ways to emphasize key characters and plots in many novels. Authors such as, Maryse Conde use change and the effects of change, to help the reader better understand the underlying themes. In the novel Segu, Conde does just this. The controversy of change in religion creates a fairly large civil conflict amongst the Bambara people. This same civil conflict eventually boils over into the controversy of change in people and trade. The effect of this change would later be described as the world's lowest point of society. "On the other hand, Islam was dangerous: it undermined the power of kings, according sovereignty to one supreme god who was completely alien to the Bambara universe" (41). Was Islam the real controversy causing the conflict, or were the Bambara people stuck in their own worlds?

"There is no god but Allah…" (41). This is what was taught to many African people during the emergence of the Islamic culture. Although many diverse religions existed before this emergence, Islam and its teachings spread quicker than people imagined. Its teachings were very formal and education-oriented. This was certainly evident through the emergence of Tiekoro, the son of Dousika Traore, who was the king's most trusted advisor, but not a well-respected man. As Conde stated on page 41, Segu seemed like it became smaller everyday, as if it were an island surrounded by other countries, which have unfortunately lost the battle to Islam. Tiekoro, being a young man, realized these rapid changes in his society. He, unlike many other Bambaras, decided to convert to the majority, leaving the minority (his Bambara people) behind to ponder what their next choice will be.

The culture of Islam has its positive aspects, as well as its negative aspects. Islam bestowed many unfortunate people the opportunity to gain more knowledge about their surroundings, and the adversities that they may face on a daily basis. Islam also created alliances, and...
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