OUSD > Urban Dreams > Language Arts > Extended Literature > Grade 10 > Niane


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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 mother’s 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 Maghan’s 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. More... (© TheatreWorksUSA; )

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