Sundiata: An Epic of Old Mali

What does it mean when he says,"The future springs from the past?"

The future springs from the past.

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These words, spoken by the griot in the first section, set up a theme he revisits constantly in the epic: the importance of history and remembrance. This is a relatively concise statement of the griot's purpose. He teaches kings (and others) about the past not only to celebrate ancestry for an abstract purpose, but for the practical purpose of guiding future choices. The idea that mankind can grow if we learn from the past is contained here, and hence the griot, as repository of history, is so important. This quote also implicitly explains the purpose of the epic: to remember Sundiata and how he brought peace to Mali through his heroism, all in hopes that future rulers can learn from him. Implicit in this statement is a warning that the griot will make explicit on other occasions: if we don't learn from history, then we are bound to damn ourselves by repeating past mistakes.