Re-thinking Sunjata: epics and epistemology in West African oral narratives
- Date: Tuesday 27 March 2018, 16:00 – 17:30
- Location: Leeds Arts Humanities Research Institute
- Cost: Free
Part of the 'Finding Africa' Seminar series.
African oral epics, in common with African oral traditions as a whole, have in the past too often been understood as hallowed messages from the past, handed down unchanged from generation to generation. New thinking based on analysis of Manding epics about Sunjata Keita and his rival for power Sumanguru Kante, two legendary rulers from the pre-colonial era, suggests that such oral traditions are part of a cultural meta-discourse fashioned and re-fashioned over time in response to social and political shifts; and their tellers, hereditary griots or jeliw, intellectual actors whose narratives help shape and re-form the identities of, and relationships between, cultural and social groups.
This event will include a paper delivered by Stephen Bulman that will examine how the recently published Epic of Sumanguru Kante, a narrative retelling medieval Mali’s foundation from the perspective of Sunjata’s defeated rival, offers fresh insights into the role of African historical oral poetry in shaping Manding ‘oral historiography’ and epistemology. This will be followed by a Q&A session.
LHRI (Seminar Room 1)