Sundiata: An Epic of Old Mali


how does this epic of Mali help the historian learn about this ancient land

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The griot defines himself as a historian, though not by Western standards. Griots are culturally oral historians. He loathes written history, as it lacks the "warmth of the human voice". But he constantly defends his vocation as crucial, since it preserves the memory not only of the Mali ancestors, but also of the decisions that were made and alliances forged. By reminding current rulers of those alliances, the griot helps maintain peace. Further, the griot recollection of Sundiata – who is known to have been a real person – is far more specific than any other historical sources that have survived from this era.