There is no single or authoritative version of epic Sundjata because as a oral history among the numerous of linguistic evidences which narrated by generation of royal historian is only known by the emperor of Mali and themselves. “… peoples in both regions had canonical beliefs and rules that, though not preserved in texts, were passed down orally from generation to generation.”(354) Like the text said back to 1000 AD, the genetic evidence and oral evidences are as important as the texts which were studied by the historians nowadays. The successors of the throne and the royal historians could only use them for reference; and add their own tones when they told the story to others. For this reason we could not say it was an unreliable history evidence because the story contains a hefty dose of mystery and witchcrafts.
The epic Sundjata was designed by Mali royal historians which is called jail (was also known as a royal musician) to be performed for a specific group of people back to 800 years ago. The one we have today is the fixed version which was once collected in French Sudan in early 20th century. From the perspective of different tribes’ own story, the story told by the griots would have slightly different in their own society. It was said the winner write the history. Accordingly, we will not expect the all the griots will have a calm, dispassionate view of the history and also for various audiences they will tailor the taste of the story. So no two oral versions of Sundjata will ever be the same. However, Sundjata is a living history text. Like the story of Aeneas, the story tells the origin of the high-point of the great African Emperor Mali. The epic conveys to the people of Mali where they came from and what makes them special. The principal or the goal of the storyteller is not necessary to tell the facts of history in a concise and meticulous fashion by telling the every detail of the story. Rather,...
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