Sundiata: An Epic of Old Mali

What does sundiata reveal about religious practices, beliefs and their roles in the medieval sudanic society?

Give religious traditions, and beliefs that the people have, and roles that the different people had that were important.

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Mali has a very complex relationship to magic and religion. While the society is infused with Islam, it maintains a polytheistic view of the world in the epic. There are jinns (spirits) all throughout nature, and gods are mentioned constantly. The great sorcerers in the work – Sogolon and Soumaoro among them – are in touch with these spirits, and yet Sundiata prevails because he learns to bow before them. Sundiata is an arrogant warrior, understandable because of his strength and bravery, but when he is unable to harm Soumaoro, he does not double down his aggression but instead allows himself to doubt his strength. As a result, he is open to prostrating himself before the religious/magical forces in nature, and they come to his aid and allow him to defeat the sorcerer king. It is worth thinking about religion, magic and nature as all part of the same realm in the epic, since all three are intertwined in Mandingo philosophy. They all comprise the realm higher than the human realm. When the griot speaks of "secrets" of Mali not available to all men, the secrets of magic are likely amongst those.