Sundiata

Sundiata The First Kings of Mali Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Mamoudou Kouyaté again implores the "sons of Mali" to listen to the story of Sundiata, the last of the great conquerors, whose triumphs and exploits are still astonishing today. At the beginning, Mali was ruled by Bambara kings, and Mamoudou Kouyaté lists the lineage of these first kings. One of them, Lahitoul Kalabi, was the first black prince to make a pilgrimage to Mecca. On his way back to Mali he was robbed by brigands, but he was saved by God and a jinn (a local nature spirit) and returned successfully to Mali.
The narrator begins to place Sundiata in a long line of kings to add a sense of history and destiny to the story. Mamoudou Kouyaté will do this throughout the novel to draw in and connect with listeners who may be related to one of these other characters, but not necessarily Sundiata. Listing a lineage becomes a way of building community in the present day through a story from the past.
Themes
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
Heroism Theme Icon
Family, Community, and the Mali Empire Theme Icon
Magic and Religion Theme Icon
Lahitoul Kalabi had two sons; the most prolific was Mamadi Kani. He invented the hunter's whistle, communicated with nature jinn, and amassed a formidable army. He conquered a great amount of land. This family line resulted in Maghan Kon Fatta, Sundiata's father. Maghan Kon Fatta had three wives: Sassouma Bérété, Sogolon Kedjou, and Namandjé.
This chapter also introduces the relationship between the indigenous local religions and Islam. Over several generations, kings relied on a combination of Islam and powerful jinn (spirits) to survive and hunt successfully.
Themes
Family, Community, and the Mali Empire Theme Icon
Magic and Religion Theme Icon