SUNDIATA AS AN EPIC

       An epic is a long narrative that relates the great deal of a larger than life hero who embodies the values or ethos of a particular society. Sundiata is definitely an epic. Sundiata tells the tale of Sundiata, a young boy who is predicted to be king.
      Though the story doesn't begin in a media-rex as opposed to the normal epic convention, but griot  Mamodu Kouyate tells the story in an elegant manner  and elevated language. He starts by telling us the history of the first kings of Mali before going on to tell us about the ordeals of the Lion King, Sundiata and his success. The narrator also uses elaborate extended comparisons, figures of speech,exaggeration, metaphor, similies etc. For example,he calls Sogolon,mother of Sundiata the buffalo woman,this is a clear example of metaphor as Sogolon is likened to a buffalo, thereby saying the wraith of a buffalo is in her. Sundiata is also called the lion child, this is initially funny because as at age four Sundiata still crawls on all fours, but immediately he started walking,the name ''lion child'' becomes realistic.
      An epic also concerns itself with internal human problems such as the conflict between good and evil. The epic of Sundiata really dwells on this,it centres on jealousy, evil, wickedness, kindness etc. These themes play out well and they conflict with each other. The story harbours the bad and exults the good. Sassusouma, Sundiata's step-mother is a character who clearly shows jealousy and plots evil in the story.Though we understand that her son, Dankara Touma has been deprived of his right through a prophecy that says Sundiata will be king. So, Sassouma hates Sundiata and grows jealous of him. She seizes every opportunity to taunt and make life miserable for Sundiata and his mother, Sogolon. When king Nerd Maghan died, Sassouma makes sure her son is crowned king saying a cripple doesn't become king as Sundiata was still crawling even at the age of Seven. So vicious is she that she taunts Sogolon and makes her cry. Sassouma also tries to kill Sundiata, she employs the help of seven witches to provoke Sundiata and kill him. Sundiata sees the witches stealing his mother baobab leaves. Instead of him to punish them, he even ask them to take more leaves. The witches, therefore, decide not to kill him, this shows us that good will always prevail. Sassouma unable to kill Sundiata forces him and his siblings to exile.
    Another thing which makes us classify Sundiata as an epic tale is that the epic hero(Sundiata) is a great leader who is strongly identified with a particular people or society and does great deed in battle. Sundiata is greatly identified with the people of Mali,Niana.
                     ''He will  make the name of Mali immortal for ever
                     The child will be the seventh star, the seventh conqueror of the earth.
                     He will be more mighty than Alexander''(6).
Truly the prophecy came to pass, Sundiata achieved immortality. His name still lives on even in death.
           There is also another epic convention which is so evident in the Sundiata tale,this is the fact that an epic hero connects with lesser persons in order to succeed.  Manding Bory,Sundiata's half brother is his best friend. Right from when Manding Bory was born,a prophecy came forth that he would be the right hand man of a mighty king,so we are not surpised he became his brother's best friend. Sundiata also connects with Belle Fasseka,his own griot who teaches him the history of his ancestors. Belle  Fasseka  also teaches him the art of governing Mali according to the principles which their ancestors have bequethed to the first kings of Mali. Also,while growing up,in his early childhood,other kings released their princes to come and stay with Sundiata so as to learn hunting. This friendship he built as a child grew to alliances and these alliances helped him to defeat Soumara and he became Mansa.
 

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