Sundiata

Summary
Analysis
Sundiata remains at Ka-ba for several days and oversees the festivities. When Sundiata and his army begin their journey to Niani, villages along the way shower them with generosity. The army crosses the Niger river on dug-out canoes, and Sundiata sacrifices 100 oxen and rams to thank God upon his return to Mali. All of Mali's residents line the sides of the road, and many lay down carpets in the roads so Sundiata's horse never has to get his feet dirty. Sosso Balla, who is untied, follows Sundiata and Balla Fasséké, and the crowd shouts abuse at him as he passes. The troops sing “Hymn to the Bow” as they march.
Sundiata has been Mansa for mere days and already his subjects appear to truly love and respect him. After fulfilling his destiny, Sundiata is treated as a true hero by his subjects. Sundiata, however, retains his modesty as he sacrifices animals in thanks for his victory. This shows an understanding that he didn't win because of brute strength or the power of destiny alone; he received divine help and he must give thanks for it.
Themes
Fate and Destiny Theme Icon
Heroism Theme Icon
Family, Community, and the Mali Empire Theme Icon
Magic and Religion Theme Icon
When the caravan reaches Niani, Sundiata looks down from a hill at the burnt city. The residents of Niani are silent except for young women and children, who shout and sing. Sundiata begins to rebuild the city in the ancient style his father preferred, and he destroys the original walls of the town so he can expand it.
Sundiata continues to honor his family and ancestors by restoring and expanding the city in an architectural style that his father loved. In this way, Maghan Kon Fatta lives on in the city of Niani, as well as in this story.
Themes
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
Family, Community, and the Mali Empire Theme Icon
Sundiata left Manding Bory at Bagadou-Djeliba as a viceroy. After Niani was rebuilt, Manding Bory went south with the army to win forested land, and the land of Sangaran allied itself with Mali. After a year, Sundiata holds an assembly at Niani of kings and dignitaries from across the empire. Fakoli proves himself to be too independent and leaves the empire. With this yearly assembly, Sundiata is able to maintain justice in the land, as none of the kings want to be denounced at Niani.
Manding Bory completes his coming of age journey as he is officially made Sundiata's right hand man, per the prophecy surrounding his own birth. Notice that Sundiata continues to use his people skills to maintain justice and order within his empire. Fakoli also is apparently allowed to leave unscathed, reminding the reader that Sundiata is not simply power hungry—he has a deep sense of justice.
Themes
Heroism Theme Icon
Family, Community, and the Mali Empire Theme Icon
The narrator says that Sundiata's justice reached everyone in the empire, and with the peace, the villages became prosperous. Thieves were consistently punished, and traders had plenty of business. The narrator says that some kings are powerful during their lives because of their physical strength, but nobody has good things to say about them after their death. Other kings are simply forgotten, but others are both feared and loved because of their power and insistence on justice. Sundiata was one of these kings, and after him, the world saw no more conquerors.
Now that justice and order have been restored to Mali, normal people can resume the work of creating families and wealth. The peace that Sundiata brings will continue for several hundred years, as the historical Mali Empire continued to expand and grow until Europeans colonized West Africa. Sundiata stands as one of the best-loved kings, and it appears that he truly earned his place beside Alexander the Great and the other ancient conquerors.
Themes
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
Heroism Theme Icon
Family, Community, and the Mali Empire Theme Icon
Get the entire Sundiata LitChart as a printable PDF.
Sundiata.pdf.medium
Mamoudou Kouyaté says that griots used to say that you could find anything you desired in Mali, including a great king (Sundiata). He continues and lists the great cities of the Mali Empire, many of which have since disappeared. The silk-cotton and baobab trees exist as reminders of these dead cities.
Time has worn on, as evidenced by the trees that remain in place of the dead cities. Discussing the passage of time in this way works to place this story in a historical context and make it feel alive to the reader or listener.
Themes
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
Family, Community, and the Mali Empire Theme Icon