The Epic of Sundiata

Topics: Mali, Mali Empire, Sundiata Keita Pages: 3 (1143 words) Published: April 7, 2004
The Epic of Sundiata is a West African tale that tells the story of the rise to power of Mali's greatest king, Sundiata (Son-Jara). In this epic, the griot Djeli Mamoudou Kouyate begins the story from the humiliating childhood of Son Jara (Sundiata), to the jealousy between his stepmother Sassouma and his half brother Dankaran Tuma, to the continue conflicts with the great sorcerer Soumaoro and the later achievements of Sundiata for his fatherland and his people.

The Empire of Mali rose out of what was once the empire of Ghana. Mali had been a state inside of the Ghana Empire (Goucher, 232). Ghana was the first empire to emerge in West Africa around the 6th century C.E. (Goucher231). Ghana used the strategic position taxing the desert nomad traders of the north and the gold producing people of the south (Goucher, 131). After the fall of Ghana, the Mali Empire took its place and rose to power under the leadership of Sundiata, "the lion King." Under Sundiata, Mali expanded rapidly west to the Atlantic Ocean, south into the forest, and east beyond the Niger River, and north as the Sahara desert. The Mali Empire dominated the vast interior of West Africa, a mostly region of mountains, savanna, desert, and forests. Here, it was the home of a rich diversity of people, including nomads, traders, farmers, and cattle herders. Depended much on the trans-Sahara trade, the Empire of Mali soon prospered. The Mali Empire was organized as staging posts in the long distance caravan trade and trading centers for the various West African products (Goucher, 234). The Mali Empire lasted from 1235 until about 1468.

West African was the center of trading in this period. Merchants from different locations would come to West Africa to trade goods and exchange their beliefs. In the book, when Sundiata and his family went to exile, they would travel with a caravan of merchants to Ghana using the trans-Sahara trade route. The Sundiata gives details about trading in the city of Ghana....
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