1. What are the current occupations of griots?
The current occupations of griots are musicians that make music and sell it.
2. What were the former responsibilities of griots?
The former responsibilities of griots were to record customs, traditions, and governmental principles of kings.
3. How does the griot acquire the title “Belen-Tigui”?
The griot acquires the title “Belen-Tigui” by going from village to village to hear the teachings of great masters.
1. What is Djeli Mamoudou?
Djeli Mamoudou is a griot.
2. Who is his family?
Djeli Mamoudou’s family is Bintou Kouyate and Djeli Kendian Kouyate.
3. Where does he get his knowledge?
Djeli Mamoudou gets his knowledge from his father/
4. How does he praise himself?
He praises himself by calling himself master in the art of eloquence and says he is the memory of mankind.
5. Why should we listen to him?
We should listen to him because he claims he is a royal griot and royal griots don’t lie.
The First Kings of Mali
1. How was Sundiata described?
Sundiata was described as the Father of the Bright Country, the ancestor of those who draw the bow, and the master of a hundred vanquished kings.
2. Originally Mali was the province of what?
Mali was originally the province of Bambara kings.
3. What is the homeland of Mandigo?
The homeland of Mandigo is Mali
4. Why do you think they gave us a lineage of Sundiata?
I think they gave us a lineage of Sundiata to prove that he should be respected.
The Buffalo Woman
1. Where is Magnan Kon Fatta’s palace, Canco, located?
Magnan Kon Fatta’s palace is located in the capital of Nianiba.
2. Where is Magnan Kon Fatta’s capital?
Magnan Kon Fatta’s capital is Nianiba.
3. What kind of tree does he sit under?
Magnan Kon Fatta sits under a silk-cotton tree.
4. Who seems to have considered the hunter to be one of his favorites?
Gnankouman Dou, the king’s griot, considers the hunter to be one of his favorites.
5. How can you tell?
I can tell because the king’s griot realizes that the hunter is from Sangaran, so he must be an expert master.
6. What is the hunter’s homeland?
The hunter’s homeland is Sangaran.
7. What are the pros and cons of being left-handed?
The pro of being left-handed is that in the divining art, it is said that left-handed people are the best. The con of being left-handed is that the left hand is the hand of evil.
The Lion Child
1. Who did Sassouma Bérété enlist to help her kill Sogolon?
Sassouma Bérété enlisted the foremost sorcerers to help her kill Sogolon.
2. How was Sogolon protected?
Sogolon was protected by three owls.
3. How did nature react to the birth of Sundiata?
Nature reacted to the birth of Sundiata by making thunder, lightning, and rain.
4. When is the naming-day?
The naming-day is eight days after birth.
5. What is Sundiata’s name?
Sundiata’s name is Maghan and Mari Djata.
6. How was the feast arranged?
The feast was arranged with people who came from all the villages of Mali with gifts, rice which was to serve as bread, and sacrificed oxen that lay at the foot of the great silk-cotton tree. The festivity ended with the distribution of meat to the heads of families.
1. How was Sundiata unusual at age three?
Sundiata was unusual at age three because he was still crawling on all four while other children his age were walking.
2. What was the reaction of the first wife?
The reaction of the first wife was to rejoice at Sundiata.
3. What was the king’s reaction?
The king lost hope after a while and became impatient.
4. During his childhood, Sundiata gains a brother, two sisters, and a stepsister, who are they?
Sundiata’s sisters are Kolonkan and Djamarou. His brother is Boukar, later to be called Manding Boukari.
The Lion’s Awakening
1. After the king’s death, what was the role of the council?
The role of the council after the king’s death was to make Dankaran Touman king.
2. Why was the queen mother all powerful?
The queen mother was all powerful because she was the mother of the king.
3. How did she persecute Sogolon? Why?
She persecuted Sogolon by banishing to a back yard of the palace where and old hut was which had served as a lumber-room of Sassouma’s. This is because the late Naré Maghan had preferred her.
4. How was the baobab leaf the last straw for Sogolon?
The baobab leaf was the last straw for Sogolon because she got insulted that her son couldn’t walk and get a baobab leaf for her.
5. What did Sundiata need to walk?
Sundiata needed an iron rod to walk.
6. What does the number of forges tell you about the importance of iron in this culture?
The number of forges tells us that they had a lot of weapons so iron was needed.
7. How did the smith know this was a day of importance?
The smith knew this was a day of importance because his father had an enormous iron bar and everybody wondered what this bar was destined to be used for.
8. How did Sundiata’s ability to walk change the popularity of Soussouma Bérété?
Sundiata’s ability to walk changed the popularity of Soussouma Bérété because everyone paid attention to Sogolon because she was respectful to her husband and Soussouma wasn’t.
9. Who was responsible for the education of Sundiata?
Sundiata’s griot, Balla Fasséké, was responsible for Sundiata’s education.
10. Why did the nine witches hesitate to kill Sundiata?
The nine witches hesitated to kill Sundiata because their action will have no effect unless they implicated themselves.
11. What does Soussouma promise the witches?
Soussouma promises the witches a cow and her calf, a hundred measures of rice, and a hundred measure of hay.
12. How did Sundiata confound the witches?
Sundiata confounded the witches by showing great generosity.
13. How did Sundiata compensate the witches for the bribes that Soussouma had promised?
Sundiata compensated the witches with an elephant for each of the nine witches and free access to his vegetable patch.
14. What was the final promise of the witches?
The final promise of the witches was to watch over Sundiata.
15. What do we discover to be a skill of Sogolon Kolonkan, Sundiata’s youngest sister?
We discover that Sogolon Kolonkan was well versed in the art of witchcraft and watched over her brother without him suspecting it
1. Why did Djata except exile?
Djata accepted exile to save his brother, Manding Bory, who was like his best friend.
2. Who was Sundiata’s best friend?
Sundiata’s best friend was his half brother, Manding Bory.
3. What happened to Sundiata’s griot?
Sundiata’s griot, Balla Fasséké, was sent away on a mission thought of by Dankaran Touman.
4. Why did Sogolon say it was okay for Balla Fasséké to be sent away as an ambassador?
Sogolon said it was okay for Balla Fasséké to be sent away because she said it was Soussama who is acting thus and she does now know that she disobeys a higher order.
5. How old is Sundiata when he leaves?
Sundiata is ten years old when he leaves.
6. How long are his travels?
His travels are seven years long.
7. Why did Sogolon and her family leave the court of Mansa Konkon?
Sogolon and her family left the court of Mansa Konkon because Sundiata won the game against the king so the king exiled them from his town.
8. Why did the king of Tabon suggest that Sogolon and her family go to the court of Ghana?
The king of Tabon suggested that Sogolon and her family go to the court of Ghana because he knew the king and a caravan of merchants was shortly leaving to Ghana.
9. What role does Sundiata intend for Fran Kamara when he returns?
Sundiata intends to make Fran Kamara a great general.
10. How was Wagadou in Ghana different from Niani?
Wagadou was different from Niani because Niani had straw roofs. Wagadou also had a lot of mosques while in Niani there was only one mosque. The anterooms were incorporated in the houses whereas in Niani the anteroom was a separate building.
11. What was Soumaba Cissé’s view of Sundiata?
Soumaba Cissé’s view of Sundiata was that he was very commanding and would make a good king one day.
12. Where was Sogolon and her family sent after she became ill? Why?
Sogolon and her family were sent to Mema. This was because the air which blew from the river would be able to restore Sogolon’s health.
13. What did Sundiata learn from the caravaneers?
Sundiata learned about the countries beyond Ghana, the land of the Arabs, the Hejaz, cradle of Islam, and of Djata’s ancestors. He also learned a little bit about Alexander the Great.
14. Who received Sogolon in Mema?
A courier, dispatched earlier from Wagadou, had heralded the arrival of Sogolon at Mema.
15. What does King Moussa Tounkara bring back with him to Mema?
King Moussa Tounkara brings back with him captives to Mema.
16. Who first takes Sundiata on a campaign?
Moussa Tounkara first took Sundiata on a campaign.
17. Describe Sundiata as a warrior.
Sundiata was strong and fast. He was also incredibly brave and had a remarkable presence of mind.
18. What title was given to Sundiata after three years of Moussa Tounkara’s tutelage?
Sundiata was given the title of Sundiata Kan-Koro-Sigui, Moussa’s Viceroy.
19. When Sogolon had finished the task of raising Sundiata, what advice does she give her son?
When Sogolon had finished the task of raising Sundiata, she tells him, “Do not deceive yourself. Your destiny lies not here but in Mali. The moment has come. I have finished my task and it is yours that is going to begin, my son. But you must be able to wait. Everything in its own good time.”
Soumaoro Kanté, the Sorcerer King
1. Who was the new master of Mali?
The new master of Mali was Soumaoro Kanté, king of Sosso.
2. Where did the Untouchable king live?
The Untouchable king lived in on the seventh floor of a seven-storey tower built for himself.
3. What skills were attributed to him?
He was a descendant of the Diarisso which were masters of fire. He was also a sorcerer, had a lot of power, and killed anyone who wanted in a swift move.
4. What was required of Dankaran Touman to prevent the destruction of Niani?
Dankaran Touman was required to make Soumaoro’s submission.
5. What else did he do to cement the relationship?
Dankaran also sent his sister, Nana Triban, to the king of Sosso.
6. Describe the secret chamber of the palace.
The secret chamber’s walls were tapestried with human skins and there was on in the middle of the room which the king sat; around an earthenware jar nine heads formed a circle; water had become disturbed and a monstrous snake had raised its head. On a perch above a bed were three owls; on the wall hung weapons. To the right of the door was a balafon.
7. What is a balafon? What was the special connection between it and the king?
A balafon is a musical instrument. After each victory the king would come and sing his own praises. The king only had to touch it for him to know that someone had got into his secret chamber.
8. How did war between Sundiata and Soumaoro become inevitable?
War between Sundiata and Soumaoro became inevitable because Soumaoro had stolen Sundiata’s griot.
1. What is the difference between a griot and a seer?
The difference between a griot and a seer is that seers can tell the future while griots can tell the past.
2. What is wrong with a written history?
Written history has killed the faculty of memory. People do not feel the past anymore, for writing lacks the warmth of the human voice.
3. Why does the griot once again declare his bona fides?
The griot declares his bona fides because to be known as a respected person.
4. In what way could the war against Soumaoro be seen as a holy war?
The war against Soumaoro was not seen as holy.
5. What sorts of evil deeds illustrate Soumaoro’s demonic nature?
Soumaoro abducted girls forcibly from their family without marrying them, flogged respected old men, and abducted Keleya, his nephew’s wife.
6. What did Soumaoro do to alienate his chief general, Fakoli Koroma?
Soumaoro abducted Fakoli’s wife and locked her up in the palace.
7. Who joins Fakoli’s uprising against Soumaoro?
Everywhere men answered the call of Fakoli, including Dankaran Touman.
8. What is the fate of Niani?
Niani was destroyed and reduced to ashes.
9. What was the reaction of Soumaoro’s claim to Mali by right of conquest?
The reaction to Soumaoro’s conquest was that he was not recognized by the people and organized a resistance in the bush against him.