The 5 Reasons Sunjata is Sunjata: Cause and Effect in the People of Sunjata’s Life

The West African Epic of the Mande People

 This story, historically performed for an audience, is also a piece of oral literature. The generational significance between oral literature is found in Sunjata because this epic has been plugged into Mande society through performances by “jeliw”, “The Guardians of The World”, preserve the word of this epic. It is taught and spoken about during childhood, thus growing into, adulthood. “The epic tells of the great expectation surrounding the birth of Sunjata, whose heroism has long been foretold.” Sunjata is born out of chaos and disorder in the actions of others. But also in the inactions of the universe and people, especially Sunjata once he is born. The effects of these causes are inevitable because of the prophecy that Sunjata was born into. The introduction of Sunjata’s family members and his life before conception, truly offer a way to see how his life was seemingly predestination from conception. 

Konfara the King:  Sunjata’s father. He marries women in the hopes of bearing a son and fulfilling his. His actions in pursuing women, cause a lot of blueprints for the relationship that is built, in order for Sunjata to have the family that he does. “When Maghan Knofara was a mansa in Manden he had power, he had wealth, he was popular, and he has dalilu—but he has no child. Maghan Konfara, Sunjata’s father, craved a child. Though his friends had begun to have children, he still had no child. But then his daliu showed that he would finally have a child.”

The Abu Brothers: The brother’s murder Do Kamissa and claim Sologon as their prize in doing so. They could not consummate the marriage so they gave her to Konofara. In the actions of killing Do Kamissa, the brother met Sologon and she became Sunjata’s mother through their failure to marry her.

Do Kamissa: The beast. She introduces the brothers to Sologon, which later one she is given away to Konofara in their failure. The brothers succeed in killing her, as she instructed them on how to. Her actions are the centrality of the chaos built around Sunjata’s birth. “Do Kamissa left the town and stayed in a farm hamlet near Do ni Kiri. At that time, the place known as Do ni Kiri included the twelve towns of Do, the four towns of Kiri, and the six towns on the other side of the river. At the break of day, Do Kamissa transformed herself into a buffalo and began to kill the people living in those places. It became a bad time for Do ni Kiri.”

Sologon: She is emphasized in the story mainly for her ugliness, figuring that she is undesirable for this fact. However, she is powerful, which makes her an important role in Sunjata’s upbringing. “Sologon was still a virgin when she came to Maghan Konfara. After three days her bloody virgin cloth was taken out. The following month, she became pregnant with Sunjata. That is how Sunjata was conceived.”

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Puchner, Martin, et al. The Norton Anthology of World Literature. W.W. Norton & Company, 2018.