Sundiata

Sundiata Kouroukan Fougan or The Division of the World Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Sundiata, Fakoli, and Tabon Wana lead their armies to Ka-ba, a small town in Sibi. Sundiata dresses as a Muslim king and stands on a raised dais, his many armies gathered around him. Balla Fasséké, as the master of ceremonies, addresses the assembly and mentions each group by name. He greets the group in Sundiata's name, and then greets King Kamandjan. Kamandjan mounts his horse and salutes his allies. He asks of the assembled who alone could have taken on Soumaoro, and pledges his allegiance to Sundiata. The crowd cheers, and the other 12 assembled kings repeat Kamandjan's words and swear fealty to Sundiata.
Once again, mentioning the groups by name allows a listener to identify very specifically with the people in the story. Now that Sundiata has conquered his empire, those who fought for him officially pledge to be a part of Sundiata's empire and greater community. Here we see the fruit of Sundiata's lifelong ability to make friends and keep them. Many of these kings played with Sundiata when they were children, and Sundiata inspires the same loyalty now that he did then.
Themes
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
Heroism Theme Icon
Family, Community, and the Mali Empire Theme Icon
The festival begins. The sofas perform their war dances to “Hymn to the Bow,” and the war chiefs show off their horses' maneuvers. Sundiata smiles happily at the sight. In the afternoon, the assembled watch a procession of prisoners and booty. The last to process is Sosso Balla, who rides a horse surrounded by donkeys bearing Soumaoro's fetish objects. The crowd screams in horror and taunts Sosso Balla as he reaches Sundiata's dais. Sundiata gloomily remembers Soumaoro's mysterious disappearance, but Balla Fasséké assures him that "the son will pay for the father."
Sosso Balla will pay for his father's misguided attempt to resist Sundiata's destiny by enduring this public ridicule. In line with other antagonists, Sosso Balla won't necessarily get a neat ending to his story; rather, after the narrator mentions that he accompanies Sundiata to Niani, he's simply erased from the narrative. He presumably fathers no heirs, which then effectively erases him not just from stories, but also from the greater community.
Themes
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
Heroism Theme Icon
Family, Community, and the Mali Empire Theme Icon
Magic and Religion Theme Icon
Sundiata rises and the crowd falls silent. Sundiata speaks "as Mansa" (quietly). He greets the assembled and grants King Kamandjan the kingdom of Sibi. He creates an alliance between Sibi and Mema, and he continues to create alliances between other kingdoms of Mali while officially granting the kings their kingdoms. When he's finished with this task, Sundiata grants Balla Fasséké the title of grand master of ceremonies, meaning that Sundiata's Kieta clan will choose their griots from Balla's tribe (Kouyaté). Sundiata's word became law, and Mamoudou Kouyaté says that today in Ka-ba, there's a linké tree that commemorates the "division of the world."
Notice here that Mamoudou Kouyaté draws a very deliberate link between himself and Balla Fasséké (of the Kouyaté tribe). This lends historical weight to Mamoudou Kouyaté's story, as it becomes evident that the story truly has been passed down through his family for generations. He's able to place himself in the story and in the family line, just as he places Sundiata in a line of kings and encourages his audience to find their own place within the lineages of the kings.
Themes
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
Heroism Theme Icon
Family, Community, and the Mali Empire Theme Icon