Sundiata Family

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Throughout this course, we have not only experienced the physical dancing of the West African culture, but we have also experienced the importance of the role of family to this culture. A family is typically defined as a group of people united by certain convictions or a common affiliation. “The family is an essential element of the Malinke society. It produces new humans, it is led by elders, and it provides people with a connection to every individual and to the group as a whole” (Niane xii). Within our class, we were divided into four different families. Before taking this class, most of the members of the Coulibaly family had no affiliation with each other. As the class continued, we learned how to work together as a family. We helped each…show more content…
Sundiata, an old epic, examines the story of a real king of Mali. Although the story, focuses on the rise of Sundiata, other themes have shown to be prevalent, especially the role of family. For instance, the king, Maghan Kon Fatta, relies on his crippled son to take over the kingdom. At first the king worried his son would not be a powerful successor, but was reassured by his griot when he said, “when the seed germinates growth is not always easy; great tress grow slowly but they plunge their roots deep into the ground” Niane 17). After hearing this, the king realized his son would be the right heir to the throne. The king “radiated confidence” (Niane 17). Giving his son this type of responsibility shows the amount of trust within the family. One of the most glaring qualities is Sundiata’s strength. When Sundiata learns that his mother is disappointed that her son is unable to walk, he forces himself to walk on two legs. He surprises everyone by bending a rod and using it in order to walk. Then finally releases the rod and walks on his own. Thus showing that he would do anything to make his mother proud. Even when Sundiata is exiled from his city, he still cares for and nurtures his mother and close family. Although the family “suffered the insults” and “doors were shut against them and kings chased them from their courts” Sundiata kept the family…show more content…
Ramatoulaye states, “The success of the family is born in the couple’s harmony, as the harmony of multiple instruments creates a pleasant symphony” (Ba 94). Ramatoulaye compares a simple couple to musical instruments. If two instruments are able to work together, a symphony can be created. She suggests that if the simplest subunit is cohesive, everything else should be unified and interconnected as well. Ramatoulaye ends her letter with the thought, “the nation is made up of all the families, rich or poor, united or separated, aware or unaware. The success of a nation therefore depends inevitably of the family” (Ba 94). She iterates that people may come from different backgrounds, yet each family must be strong in order to maintain a strong nation and country. We can also relate this quotation to our West African Dance class. Similarly, each student within the class came from different backgrounds. The success of the class can also depend on each of the families. In class, we not only attempted to work together as a family, but we were told to cheer on other families as well. Similar to Hanna’s article, we see the same idea that unified values, beliefs, and attitudes create a strong

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