African Oral Epic Poetry: Praising the Deeds of a Mythic by Fritz H. Pointer

By Fritz H. Pointer

An incredible serious variation and English translation of this significant African epic fable.

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Somori! If you insult a smith ... (Kambili ll. " He does not feature at all in Kambili as a character, but is very much one, and an important one, in the Sundiata epic. According to his editors, the bard Seydou Camara has a version of Sundiata, which is not yet transcribed. In Niane' s version, Sundiata, Fakoli is the nephew of Soumaoro, arch enemy of the hero Sundiata. In the great war 44 between these two, Fakoli takes Sundiata's side against his uncle Soumaoro because the latter has taken his wife Keleya from him.

Ambili, an aspect ofthis realism can be seen in the executions of the four unsuccessful sorcerers commanded by Amamy Samori Toure. This central motif, in Kambili, is indicative of a certain realism, because Samori is an historically verifiable Mandinka Emperor capable of such actions. As noted by Paul Radin, traditional African omture does not appear to be a litemture in which wish-fulfillment plays a big role, or one where we can assume that the hero will triumph at the end or where wrongs will be righted (Radin 1952).

Sometimes the bard is moved by the magnitude of recent events, for example: "I salute you Parisian man of the hour'' (333), a reference to Charles de Gaulle; or giving deference to his host, for example: my apprentices, I greet you. Guests, I greet you. Respected guests, I greet you, Allah! 57-59) The singer is a man of his times and some violations of historical fact are motivated by, perhaps, political self-interest and the vicissitudes of extemporaneous composition. The concept of 'heroic age' is only relevant to an interest in history conceived as a rigid entity, which is alien to the mythmaking genius of the poet of oral epic.

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