Sundiata

Sundiata The Lion Child Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The narrator says that a wife becomes accustomed quickly to being a wife. Sogolon now moves through the king's enclosure freely, and people have become accustomed to her ugliness. Sassouma, Maghan’s first wife, becomes unbearable, since she’s jealous of Sogolon's pregnancy and of Maghan’s preference for her. Sassouma decides to kill Sogolon, and she calls sorcerers to her, all of whom state that they can't take on Sogolon. Sassouma decides that she'll wait until after Sogolon's baby is born.
Despite the fact that Sogolon never got a say in whether or not she would become a wife or mother, being a wife and mother-to-be affords her privilege and comfort. Further, it protects her from Sassouma's jealousy, as the prophecy is so powerful that the sorcerers refuse to harm Sogolon.
Themes
Family, Community, and the Mali Empire Theme Icon
Magic and Religion Theme Icon
When Sogolon goes into labor, Maghan Kon Fatta calls nine great midwives to attend to her. He acts anxious, as though he's becoming a father for the first time, and the palace is completely silent. The sky suddenly darkens and a thunderstorm rolls in. It quickly passes and a midwife informs Maghan that Sogolon has given birth to a boy.
It's obvious that the prophecy is weighing on Maghan's mind as he waits to know if Sogolon's baby will be the foretold conqueror of Mali. This again underscores the truth of the prophecy, as there's evidently no question that if the baby is a boy, he's the foretold ruler.
Themes
Fate and Destiny Theme Icon
Family, Community, and the Mali Empire Theme Icon
Maghan stands as though in a daze, and Gnankouman Doua signals to slaves to start the drums that will announce to Mali the birth of the boy. Maghan gets up to leave and Doua sings a song about "the lion child, the buffalo child." Maghan distributes rice among his people and Sassouma grows even more jealous.
This song is the first song that will record the existence of Sundiata in history. Moments after birth, even before he's aware that he's destined for greatness, he's recorded and memorialized in the cultural memory.
Themes
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
Fate and Destiny Theme Icon
Family, Community, and the Mali Empire Theme Icon
Eight days later, the infant is named. Sogolon rests inside while Maghan addresses a crowd. He says that the boy will be named Maghan Mari Djata. Griots shout the name, and the king's aunt whispers the name into the infant's ear. Everyone admires the baby.
Again, griots are the ones to shout the name and commit the name to memory, thereby cementing the child in the history and memory of Mali through storytelling.
Themes
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
Get the entire Sundiata LitChart as a printable PDF.
Sundiata.pdf.medium