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The Cross-Cultural Features of Heroism Found in Sundiata.

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The cross-cultural features of heroism found in Sundiata.
The son of Djeli Kedian Kouyatd and Bintou Kouyatd, Djeli Mamoudou Kouyatd describes Sundiata as being the beloved one of God, great among rulers, unmatched among men and the last one of the great victors (Niane 2). Sundiata is from the linage of Bilali Bounama who was a faithful servant to Prophet Muhammad (Niane 2). Sundiata was born of the great king Nare Maghan Kon Fatta who was loved by all the people he ruled over. Maghan had 3 wives and six children and was well renowned for his beauty over the lands (Niane 4).
Sundiata is prophesied to be a great person even before his conception. A hunter passing by the land of Mali prophesies that Sundiata’s mother, Sogolon Kedjou, is a hideous and ugly woman with a defacing hump on her back. He insists that this is the woman the king would have to marry in order for his successor to be born and for the name of Mali to become immortal. The hunter also says that in order for this woman to be led to the king he would have to sacrifice a red bull. He describes Sundiata to be greater than Alexander and to be “the seventh star, the seventh conqueror of the earth” (Niane 6).
The father and mother of Sundiata meet due to fate. The handsome king, Maghan Kon Fatta is faced with the challenge of accepting this ugly woman who has been brought to him as a present by the hunters. She would be an embarrassment to him. The Mali hunters who had been able to defeat a raging buffalo that had killed and injured many in the land of Do. They had accomplished this due to the advice of an old woman they had come across who had offered them advice for killing the bull in return for their gratitude. The king of Do had offered a pleasant reward, the most beautiful maiden, for whoever would conquer the bull that had terrorized the villages for long. The woman had implied that the hunters would have to pick the ugliest woman who is Sundiata’s mother when offered a chance to pick the girl they wanted and the hunters had sworn to do so (Niane 8). The woman had told them that “She will be an extraordinary woman if you manage to possess her” (Niane 8).Amid great mockery from the people of Do, the hunters picked Sogolon, the girl with a hunchback and monstrous eyes and left the land for Mali where they presented her to the king.
Sassouma, the first wife to the king of a Mali is a threat to the very existence of Sundiata prior to his birth. The king accepted Sogolon Kedjou and a wedding was planned (Niane 9). There was great curiosity among the people of Mali who had heard that the wife the king would marry is not beautiful and they couldn’t wait to see her. The first wife of the king, Sassouma, was displeased that the king was marrying Sogolon. After the marriage, Sogolon soon got pregnant and Sassouma filled with jealousy consulted various sorcerers in an attempt to kill Sogolon but all had failed. Sassouma then said “`Very well then, let him be born, this child, and then we'll see." (Niane 13). As an infant, Sundiata is protected by divine powers. At dark fall, three owls perched over Sogolons room to protect her.
Sundiata’s birth is accompanied by supernatural events. During Sundiata’s birth, the skies darkened, there was thunder and huge raindrops started falling despite it having been a dry season.

“Suddenly the sky darkened and great clouds coming from the east hid the sun, although it was still the dry season. Thunder began to rumble and swift lightning rent the clouds; a few large drops of rain began to fall while a strong wind blew up. A flash of lightning accompanied by a dull rattle of thunder burst out of the east and lit up the whole sky as far as the west. Then the rain stopped and the sun appeared and it was at this very moment that a midwife came out of Sogolon's house, ran to the antechamber and announced to Nard Maghan that he was the father of a boy.” (Niane 13)
The king had been very tense during Sogolon’s labor to the time when the child was born. Songs of joy filled the air after the birth of the boy child who would come to be known as Sundiata. The king’s griot, Gnankouman Doua, in his song called Sundiata the lion child and the buffalo child (Niane 14). The child was named Mari Djata and was referred to by the people as Sogolon Djata name which late changed to Sundiata (Niane 23).
Sundiata faces great difficulties as a child. At the age of three Sundiata could not was still crawling on all fours while his fellow age mates had already started walking. He was a greedy child and anytime the mother walked out he would crawl over to the calabashes looking for food (Niane 15). In addition Sundiata had not inherited anything from the father’s beauty. All this brought much happiness to the king’s first wife, Sassouma whose son, Dankaran Touman, was eleven by then (Niane 16).
Sundiata is robbed of his position in the throne due to his physical disability. The king was getting old and knew he would die soon. Before his death, he left Doua’s son to Sundiata to be his griot. After the death of the king, the council met and made Sassouma’s son king contrary to the deceased king’s wishes. Gnankouman Doua could do little to change the turn of events since Sundiata still crawled on all fours (Niane 18).
Sundiata and Sogolon face ridicule from the public. Sassouma kicked Sogolon and her children into the backyard of the palace and allowed the public to come see her disabled child in order to humiliate her and her son.
It is through divine intervention that Sundiata, or as he was known, Mari Djata, begins to walk. According to Djeli Mamoudou Kouyatd, Sogolon once needed baobab leaves and went to Sassouma to request for son. Sassouma allowed her to pick some leaves but not without delighting in Sogolon’s misery. Sassouma told Sogolon that it is her son who picks the leaves for her since he can walk. In great shame Sogolon returned to her place to find young Sundiata still crawling about and infuriated hit the boy and lamented about all the shame he had caused her to which he replied “Very well then, I am going to walk today. Go and tell my father's smiths to make me the heaviest possible iron rod. Mother, do you want just the leaves of the baobab or would you rather I brought you the whole tree?”(Niane 19). A rod was then acquired from the Smiths and despite through great struggle, Sundiata was able to stand on two legs (Niane 20).
Sundiata possessed supernatural strength. Sundiata then used the rod from the blacksmiths, which had twisted into the shape of a bow while he was attempting to stand, and went and got his mother the whole baobab tree (Niane 22). Sundiata possesses great strength.
Sundiata faces a threat to his life. Sassouma was worried of Sundiatas’s fame, he was loved by the people for they thought him modest compared to her son who was proud. Sassouma then arranged a meeting with some of the old greatest witches and revealed to them her intentions to kill Sundiata (Niane 24). She wanted them to help her but the witches claimed that they cannot take his life yet he has not shown any injustice to them. Hence they plotted to steal Sogolon’s vegetables in order to infuriate Sundiata and make him disrespect them, however, when Sundiata caught them stealing he filled their bags with vegetables and even allowed them to come refill them if they were ever in need (Niane 25). Due to Sundiata’s kindness the witches vowed to protect him.
Sundiata goes into exile. Sogolon knew the extents that Sassouma would go to in order to hurt Sundiata and herself. From this she suspected that Sassouma could attempt to hurt her other children and Sundiata’s half-brother, Manding Bory, from his father’s third wife, Namandjd. Sundiata, therefore, agreed to go to exile (Niane 29).
Sundiata faces a threat on his life. Sogolon and her family seek refuge at the land of a great sorcerer, Mansa Konkon. Sassouma again attempts to kill Sassouma by sending gold to Mansa Konkon so he can get rid of Sundiata. Mansa Konkon then convinced Sundiata to play a game whereby if he (Sundiata) lost Mansa would kill him. A great challenge but Sundiata won and instead of rewarding him with a sword as they had earlier agreed, Mansa Konkon chased them away from his land (Niane 31).
Sundiata’s is courageous. During their stay at Ghana, the king, Soumaba Cisse, acknowledges Sundiata’s courage before adults (Niane 34). He also commends him for having a commanding voice. Sundiata, his mother and his siblings moved to Mema when Sogolon fell sick. At Mema Sundiata acquired respect among the people and worked with the king by going for campaigns with him. It is while at Mema that Sundiata learned about Soumaoro was now leading Mali. His brother, Dankaran Touman, had ran away and the people of Mali were suffering under Soumaro’s rule. Some people from Mali had come posing as merchants to convince Sundiata to go and take over his rightful position as a leader of Mali. Around this time, Sogolon passed away and the king of Mali allowed Sundiata to bury his mother there. The king of Mali then gave Sundiata men from his army to with Sundiata and help him reclaim his throne. It is from then on that Sundiata embarked on a journey to return to Mali to reclaim his rightful place in the throne.

References
Niane, D.T. Sundiata: An Epic of Old Mali. China. Pearson Education Limited. 2006. Print.
Ridley, D. The literature review: a step-by-step guide for students. London. Sage Publishers. 2008. Print.
Machi, L.A. & McEvoy, B.T. The literature review: six steps to success. Thousand Oaks. Corwin Press. 2009. Print.…...

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