About Sundiata (Son-Jara)

In the courts of The Mali Empire (c. 1230 to 1600), oral historians (finah) chanted poems like the epic of Sundiata to the accompaniment of musicians and praise singers called jalis. This tradition continues in West Africa and its influences can be heard in the songs of Afropop stars like Youssou N’Dour.

The oral, call-and-response epic of Sundiata inspired the Broadway hit musical The Lion King. In it, the lion king becomes founder of the Mali Empire. In this excerpt, hunters defeat the evil buffalo spirit that has terrorized the land.