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About this book
The story of Sundiata, Lion King of Mali has been passed down by
West African griots (storytellers) for centuries. The name Sundiata
is derived from Sogolon Djata (Djata, son of Sogolon, his mothers
name), which became Sundiata in the fast-speaking dialect of the
Mandinka people; however, like many legendary figures, he is known
by many names.1 Although it is difficult to separate the historical
figure from the fabled hero, Sundiata (1210?-1260?) is celebrated
as the founder and ruler of the Mali Empire (c. 1230). He became
known as the Lion King because his father Maghans
totem (family symbol) was the lion; this title also symbolizes his
bravery. Although he was unable to walk or speak as a young child,
he overcame these challenges to become a great warrior and leader.
In 1235, Sundiata defended Mali against the King of Sosso, Sumanguru,
and went on to conquer other neighboring domains until Mali became
the largest West African empire during the 13 th and 14 th centuries.
Sundiata is still revered as a national hero in Mali and his legend
lives on through stories, songs, poems, and dances.
(© TheatreWorksUSA; )