Sundiata: An Epic of Old Mali


A strong army was a major contributor to the success of Imperial Mali during the reign of Mansa Sundiata Keita.[41] Credit to Mali's conquests cannot all be attributed to Sundiata Keita but equally shared among his generals, and in this, Tiramakhan Traore stood out as one of the elite generals and warlords of Sundiata's Imperial Mali.[41] However, in a wider perspective of 13th century West African military history, Sundiata stood out as a great leader and a valiant warrior who was able to command the loyalties of his generals and army.[41][53]

It was during his reign that Mali first began to gain fame and notoriety as well as economic strength, a strength that his successors such as Mansa Musa improved on thanks to the ground work set by Sundiata, who controlled the region's trade routes and gold fields.[40] The social and political constitution of Mali were first codified during the reign of Mansa Sundiata Keita. Known as the Gbara and the Kouroukan Fouga, although not written and subject to alterations when they were first recorded in written form, they were part of the social and political norms of Mali. Many of these laws have been incorporated into the constitution of modern-day Mali.[44]

"By unifying the military force of 12 states, Sundiata becomes an emperor known as the Lion King of Mali, who controls tribes from the Niger River west to the Atlantic Ocean. Walt Disney Studios reprised the story of Sunditata in 1994 as an animated film, The Lion King, with animals substituting for the humans of Mali legend."

Ellen Snodgrass,[54]

Sundiata Keita was not merely a conqueror who was able to rule over a large empire with different tribes and languages, but also developed Mali's mechanisms for agriculture, and is reported to have introduced cotton and weaving in Mali.[55] Towards the end of his reign, "absolute security" is reported to have "prevailed throughout his dominion."[55]

From a global perspective, the Epic of Sundiata and the Mali Empire is taught in many schools, colleges and universities, not just in West Africa but in many parts of the World.[9][13][56] Some scholars such as Ellen Snodgrass, and others have observed similarities with the 13th-century Epic of Sundiata to Walt Disney's 1994 animated film, "The Lion King" (the inspiration behind the The Lion King's franchises such as Lion King, the musical, etc.).[54] Disney has maintained that the film was inspired by William Shakespeare's Hamlet.[57]

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