Sundiata

Sundiata Nana Triban and Balla Fasséké Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Both Sundiata and Soumaoro prepare their armies. Sundiata knows that he must figure out how to destroy Soumaoro's magic, and he consults famous soothsayers. The soothsayers advise Sundiata to sacrifice 100 white bulls, white rams, and white cocks. During the sacrifice, Sundiata hears that his sister, Nana Triban, and Balla Fasséké had escaped Soumaoro and have arrived at Sundiata's camp. Sundiata remarks that if they've been able to escape, Soumaoro has lost.
Rather than consider the problem alone, Sundiata turns to others with greater or different knowledge. This is indicative of his humility. He understands that a great ruler needs help and outside insight in order to successfully rule, and he takes these soothsayers' advice without question. Notice too that the sacrifices are in line with local religion, which is another reminder that Sundiata is well rounded spiritually.
Themes
Heroism Theme Icon
Magic and Religion Theme Icon
Sundiata goes to greet Nana Triban and Balla Fasséké. He asks them to describe how they escaped, but Nana Triban just cries and apologizes for her mother Sassouma's cruelty to Sundiata (Nana Triban never thought ill of Sundiata). Balla instructs Nana Triban to tell her story, and reminds her that everything that happened was in Sundiata's destiny.
The reader is never told exactly what happened to Sassouma. Because of her poor behavior, she's erased from the story and now only exists in the tale through characters’ memories. Thus, she reaps what she has sown: she is forgotten for everything but her cruelty.
Themes
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
Family, Community, and the Mali Empire Theme Icon
Nana Triban explains that while she initially cried upon her arrival at Soumaoro's court, she was nice to him and soon became the favorite among his wives. He began confiding in her, and she pretended to hate Sundiata to earn his trust. One night, Nana Triban asked Soumaoro to share the name of the jinn who protects him so that she too could worship the jinn. This flattered Soumaoro and he showed her his secret chamber and revealed its secrets. All the while, Nana Triban and Balla Fasséké were planning their escape, and they managed to slip out one night while Soumaoro was away. Balla Fasséké tells Sundiata that when they heard what had happened in Tabon, he understood that Sundiata was ready to fulfill his destiny.
This story works as a teaching tool for Sundiata, just like the stories that Sogolon or the soothsayers told him. The information here, however, is far more concrete, as Nana Triban knows exactly how to beat Soumaoro. Notice that during her captivity, Nana Triban was able to use her lack of power because of her sex to actually obtain and transfer power between men. She doesn't necessarily get to use the power herself, but she does get to participate as a useful advisor to Sundiata, rather than just a commodity.
Themes
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
Family, Community, and the Mali Empire Theme Icon
Magic and Religion Theme Icon
Sundiata is thrilled to have Balla Fasséké back, as now he has the person who will compose the songs of his life so he'll be remembered. Mamoudou Kouyaté asserts that there wouldn't be heroes if nobody remembered their deeds.
Mamoudou Kouyaté's statement here makes up the primary thesis of Sundiata: that stories are entirely necessary for heroes to truly exist. Deeds are nothing if nobody knows about them.
Themes
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
Heroism Theme Icon
Get the entire Sundiata LitChart as a printable PDF.
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Before Sundiata moves his troops to meet Soumaoro, he assembles them in front of Balla Fasséké so that he can boost their morale with stories. Balla Fasséké tells stories of the heroes of Mali, and then asks all of Sundiata's war chiefs, one by one, to show the soldiers what they're capable of. Tabon Wana and Kamandjan perform fantastical feats and pledge their allegiance to Sundiata, and then the group leaves Sibi.
Stories here function as propaganda and encouragement for the sofas. Balla Fasséké continues to place Sundiata in this line of kings, which supports the truth of Sundiata's destiny. Sundiata appears to truly be a king as the war chiefs pledge their allegiances and prepare to fight for Sundiata and Mali.
Themes
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
Fate and Destiny Theme Icon
Heroism Theme Icon
Family, Community, and the Mali Empire Theme Icon