Sundiata

Summary
Analysis
Mamoudou Kouyaté exclaims "every man to his own land!" He explains that Moussa Tounkara couldn't keep Sundiata in Mema because it was destined for Sundiata to return to Mali. Sundiata is now strong enough to face Soumaoro. Moussa Tounkara grants Sundiata half of his army, and Sundiata and Manding Bory leave Mema dressed in traditional Muslim garb. They head for Wagadou, where the king grants them half of his own army.
The reader begins to piece together what Sundiata's empire will look like based on where kings grant Sundiata military assistance. These kings will also form Sundiata's greater community. The narrator's initial exclamation reinforces the idea that Sundiata's final destination (Mali) is truly Sundiata's "own land."
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Sundiata and his army continue south towards Tabon. The soothsayers who accompany him, Singbin Mara Cissé and Mandjan Bérété, tell Sundiata stories of past heroes. Because Soumaoro is a great sorcerer, he knows that Sundiata is coming and decides to attack Sundiata before he reaches Mali. Word of Sundiata, however, has already reached Tabon. Fran Kamara is the king of Tabon and is now known as Tabon Wana; he's already resisting Soumaoro.
Sundiata is going to follow through on his promise to Fran Kamara as he heads for Tabon, indicating that Sundiata is trustworthy and capable. Further, by returning for Fran Kamara/Tabon Wana, Sundiata is going to honor and recognize his friend as he builds his empire.
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When Sundiata arrives at the valley that leads to Tabon, he sees that Sosso Balla, Soumaoro's son, has already assembled troops in the valley to block Sundiata's path to Tabon. Sundiata laughs and instructs his war chiefs to attack Sosso Balla now. The Sosso army is surprised and can barely fight back. Sundiata tries to cut down Sosso Balla, but a Sosso soldier comes between the two men and Sosso Balla retreats. Sundiata takes several prisoners.
Detailed accounts of battles are a common hallmark of epic tales. In Sundiata, the accounts work to set Sundiata apart from other storied military leaders. Sundiata is a fantastic military strategist in addition to possessing great strength, which only adds to the evidence that he's a born leader and warrior.
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Tabon Wana arrives as the battle ends, and the armies of Sundiata and Tabon celebrate all night. News that Soumaoro's forces ran from Sundiata spreads throughout Mali. Soumaoro learns of the prophecy regarding Sundiata, but remains confident that Sundiata won't win. When Sosso Balla tells his father that Sundiata is "worse than a lion," Soumaoro chastises him but decides to attack Tabon with an even larger force.
Soumaoro is already being set up for failure, particularly now that he knows about the prophecy and actively chooses to ignore it. Regardless of Soumaoro's magical powers and military strength, the reader has been told time and again that resisting destiny is foolish and useless.
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Soumaoro and Sundiata's forces meet at Neguéboria. Sundiata's innovative style of deployment destroys the Sosso forces as Soumaoro watches from the top of a hill. Sundiata attempts to attack Sosso Balla, but Sosso Balla slips away.
Again, the narrator pays detailed attention to Sundiata's military style to further mark Sundiata as a hero. Note, too, that Sundiata fights alongside his sofas, while Soumaoro watches his troops from afar.
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Soumaoro joins the fray. Sundiata throws a spear at Soumaoro, but it simply bounces off his chest. An arrow has a similar effect. Sundiata furiously charges Soumaoro with a spear, but as he gets close, Soumaoro disappears. Manding Bory points to Soumaoro, now sitting far up on a hill. Sundiata stops to watch his enemy as his forces destroy the Sosso army, and Soumaoro suddenly disappears.
Sundiata's military strength is finally challenged. It becomes obvious here that Sundiata's strength has limits, which points to physical strength not being the most important quality of a hero. Sundiata must turn to other methods to beat Soumaoro now that his strength isn't going to work.
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While Sundiata is victorious, he spends the night brooding and wondering how to beat Soumaoro. He realizes that he'll need other weapons, and that all the gossip he's heard about Soumaoro's shape shifting abilities must be true. Sundiata climbs the hill and inspects the dirt where Soumaoro disappeared, wondering about the jinn who must protect Soumaoro. Meanwhile, a celebration begins in the camp as people from a nearby village bring food out to the armies. Sundiata receives the village chief, but doesn't join in the celebration. The next day, Sundiata's army follows the rumors of Soumaoro's army's whereabouts, and they again make camp.
While Sundiata is obviously experiencing some conflicted emotions about his realizations about Soumaoro, notice that he's not necessarily bogged down with emotion. Rather, he's thinking and calculating. Notice, too, that even though Sundiata isn't technically participating in the celebration, he still makes sure to recognize the village chief. This is how Sundiata builds trust and respect from the people who will be his future subjects.
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Sundiata and his men suddenly hear war horns, and the Sosso army launches a surprise attack. Sundiata's forces successfully fend of the Sossos with flaming arrows. It isn't necessarily a great victory for Sundiata's forces, but it serves to demoralize the Sossos.
Soumaoro's army attempts to match Sundiata's military cleverness with disastrous results—they only reinforce Sundiata's own skill and strength, and the reader is reminded that these wins are all a part of Sundiata's destiny.
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