What Role Did The Griots Play In Sunjata's Epic

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The Roles of Griots in Sunjata’s Epic David C. Conrad as an author, explains his sources, and attributes his translated version of Sunjata’s story to a griot by the name Tassey Conde of Fadama. The West African epic named after its hero, Sunjata, is an important part of Mande culture. In this culture the griots are the hereditary oral artists responsible for relating the alleged deeds of the early ancestors. The griots have served as genealogists, musicians, spokespersons and diplomats for many years. They are responsible for preserving narratives that express what people of Mande believe to have happened in their past. The stories of the ancestors have been passed from one generation of griot to the next. Generations of griots’ families…show more content…
The epic traces the adventures and achievements of the Mande hero, Sunjata, who liberated his people from Sumaworo, the sorcerer king of Soso, and establishes the great medieval empire of Mali. Conrad conveys the strong narrative thrust of Sunjata’s epic in his presentation and translation of the performance by Tassey Conde. Readers approaching this epic for the first time will appreciate the translation’s highly readable, poetic English as well as Conrad’s informative introduction and notes. There are familiar heroes and heroines taking on new dimensions, secondary characters gaining increased prominence, and previously unknown figures emerging from obscurity…show more content…
Niane from the version recounted to him by Mamoudou Kouyate. He is not the only griot’s voice heard in Sunjata’s epic. Gnankouma Doua, the griot who served Sunjata’s father, and Doua’s son, Balla Fasseke, are prominent characters only to their kings. Throughout the epic, the various roles of the griots are revealed and explored; they are genealogists, storytellers, political figures, musicians and composers, teachers, praise-singers and ceremony participants. These roles shows to be both important individually and inseparable from one another. Each is integral to the place the griot holds in the epic, and, in the society of old

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