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March 6, 2014

1. What is the relevance of the epic of Sundiata for Africana Studies?

2. Briefly describe how griots/jeli fit into social distinctions of traditional Mande

3. Then, describe THREE roles of the griot in the epic of Sundiata, drawing your
examples from BOTH the film AND the book for EACH role that you describe.

4. Lastly, what is your overall opinion of the film.

In United States education, Africana studies, Black studies, or Africology,[1] is the study
of the histories, politics and cultures of peoples of African origin both in Africa and in the
African diaspora.

He tells the audience that Mali is eternal and that reminders of history are everywhere,
but only the griot can know all.

Africana studies is heavily focused on the histories, beliefs, and cultures of people
who originated in Africa and of those people part of the many African diasporas.

1. Intro
a. Describe Africana studies
b. Discuss how Sundiata is one of the many stories depicting the founding of
the empire of Mali, and it gives insight into how people think, act, and
behaved back then in Africa.
i. Africans as depicted by ignorant media are shown as people in loin
cloths but Sundiata is an excellent example of how there is
complex political structure and order in Africa and how rich the
culture can be.
c. Discuss Mande society
i. Language, land area etc
d. Discuss how oral history is a major form of Africas history, leading into
Sundiata, specifically the griots and their duties in Mande society
i. Written history is not as adequate for keep history as written
history is always told by the victor and sometimes the whole story
is not expounded
1. Somethings can be lost in written histories like certain
secrets. The way a griot tells a story can give completely
different meaning on how certain words are said even if
they are the same exact words.
ii. Without oral history, we may never know anything about Africas
iii. Griots are extremely important in maintaining history and without
them, the past is lost
e. Describe how the epic relates to Africana studies in what you mentioned
2. Body
a. Talk about the personality of the griot and their view on life
i. In the movie, the griot is religious and presumably Muslim, he
trecked so far into the city just to tell Mabu the story of his
ii. Talk about the griot in the book, It is I, Djeli Mamoudou Kouyate,
son of Bintou Kouyate and Djeli Kedian Kouyate, master in the art
of eloquence we are vessels of speech without us the names of
kings would vanish into oblivion, we are the memory of mankind;
by the spoken word we bring life to the deeds and exploits of kings
for younger generations (1).
iii. I teach kings the history of their ancestors so that the lives of the
ancients might serve them as an example, for the world is old, but
the future springs form the past (1).
b. Discuss the role of the griot from both the book and the movie.
i. In the book, Sundiata was more angry about losing his griot than
being exiled. That is how close he is to the griot and how much
importance is given to him.
ii. Thus Balla Fasseke was stolen from the latter by Dankaran
Touman; now it was the king of Sosso, Soumaoro Kante, who in
turn stole the precious griot from the son of Sassouma Berete.
In this way war between Sundiata and Soumaoro became
inevitable (40).
iii. The Griot serves as the kings sidekick and without him, Sundiata
loses his history and connection to the past
c. Greeter of foreign people like the hunter of Do and being the word of the
king. When the hunter came the king said nothing, the griot spoke for him.
d. Griots are life long students and teachers and are paragons of honesty and
humility. At the end of the book the griot states To aquire my knowledge
I have journeyed all around Mali Everywhere I was able to see and
understand what my masters were teaching me, but between theirhands I
took an oath to teach only what is to be taught and to conceal what is to be
kept concealed. (84)
e. Griots are also musicians. In the book the griots musical and singing
ability all but saved his life form the cruel Soumaoro Kante, Instinctively
he pounced upon it and sat down to play. The griot always has a weekness
for music, for music is the griots soul He played with all his sould and
the whole room was filled with wonderment Balla sang and his voice,
which was beautiful, delighted the king of Sosso.
f. In the book he also serves as a recruiter or at least a soldier encourager,
The griots words made Fran Kamara leap up. Sword in hand and
mounted on his swift steed he came and stood before Sundiata and said
I renew my oath to you in the sight of all the Mandingoes gathered
together (58).
3. Conclusion
a. Give opinion
b. Discuss how you talked to the musician of true blues about griots no in
africa and how children would rather listen to rappers.

Leaves for seven years in exile
His griot is important because when he is gone, Sundiata loses his history and
connection to the past.
o He is angry most about being stripped of his griot
The game of worry is about verbal dexterity
o Yo momma wear combat boots
What does the griot imply about written histories?
o They wouldnt share some of the important secrets.
o Histories are told by the victors and that is an entirely different story.
So the whole story is not told.
Movie: Keita: The Heritage of the Griot

What is the role of the griot in Mande society.

Greeter of foreign people like the hunter of Do and being the word of the
king. When the hunter came the king said nothing, the griot spoke for him.
Djalbi- name of the dude teaching Mabo
o He is trying to initiate the boy
Griot must tell people the story of their past and what their name means.

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