SUNDIATA KEITA Biography - Royalty, Rulers & leaders


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Sundiata Keita or Sunjata Keyita or Mari Djata I (c. 1217 - c. 1255) was the               
founder of the Mali Empire and celebrated as a hero of the Mandé people of West           
Africa in the semi-historical Epic of Sundiata.                                           
Sunjata is also known by the name Sogolon Djata. The name Sogolon is taken from           
his mother, the buffalo woman (so called because of her ugliness and hunchback),           
and Jata, meaning "lion". A common Mande naming practice combines the mother's             
name with the personal name to give Sonjata or Sunjata. The last name Keita is a           
clan name more than a surname.                                                             
The story of Sundiata is primarily known through oral tradition, transmitted by           
generations of traditional Mandinka griots.                                               
The Epic of Sundiata                                                                       
In the Epic of Sundiata (also spelled Son-Jara), Naré Maghann Konaté (also               
called Maghan Kon Fatta or Maghan the Handsome) was a Mandinka king who one day           
received a divine hunter at his court. The hunter predicted that if Konaté               
married an ugly woman, she would give him a son who would one day be a mighty             
king. Naré Maghann Konaté was already married to Sassouma Berté and had a son by       
her, Dankaran Toumani Keïta. However, when two Traoré hunters from the Do               
kingdom presented him an ugly, hunchbacked woman named Sogolon, he remembered             
the prophecy and married her. She soon gave birth to a son, Sundiata Keita, who           
was unable to walk throughout his childhood. With the death of Naré Maghann               
Konaté (c. 1224), his first son, Dankaran Tuman, assumed the throne despite               
Konaté's wishes that the prophecy be respected. Sunjata and his mother, who now           
had given birth to two daughters and adopted a second son from Konaté's third             
wife Namandjé, suffered the scorn of the new king and his mother. After an               
insult against Sogolon, Sundiata requested an iron rod from the blacksmith                 
Nounfari, which he used to pull himself upright and walk for the first time.               
Nonetheless, the hatred of Sassouma Berté and Dankaran Toumani Keita soon drove           
Sundiata, his mother, and his two sisters into exile in the Mena kingdom.                 
Meanwhile, Soumaoro Kanté, cruel sorcerer king of Sosso, attacks the Mandinka             
kingdom, causing Dankaran Toumani Keita to take flight in fear. The oppressed             
Mandinka people now send for the exiled Sundiata. Forging a coalition of                   
neighboring small kingdoms, Sundiata wages war against the Sosso, finally                 
defeating Soumaoro Kanté at the Battle of Kirina (c. 1235). Soumaoro Kanté               
disappears in the Koulikoro mountains, and Sundiata assumes the title "Mansa," "king       
of kings," as the first ruler of the Mali Empire.                                         
==Mansa in other words; greasteset ruler of Mail, on his way back from the trip           
he brought back teachers who tought in Maili making it a great center for                 
leaning, also strong bliever in muslim.                                                   
Sundiata Keita established his capital at his home village of Niani, Mali, near           
the present-day Malian border with Guinea. Though he was a Muslim, Sundiata also           
exploited local religion, building a reputation as a man of powerful magic.               
Sundiata was not an absolute monarch, despite what the title implies. Though he           
probably wielded popular authority, the Mali Empire was reportedly run like a             
federation, with each tribe having a chief representative at the court. The               
first tribes were Mandinka clans of Traore, Kamara, Koroma, Konde, and of course           
Keita. The tribal council was in charge of checking the Mansa's power, enforcing           
his edicts among their people, and selecting the successor (usually the Mansa's           
brother or sister's son).                                                                 
Sundiata Keita died in 1255, probably of drowning. Tradition holds that he died           
while crossing the Sankarini river, where a shrine remains today. He had three             
sons who succeeded him to the throne of the Mali Empire: Mansa Wali Keita, Ouati           
Keita and Khalifa Keita. The famous West African ruler Mansa Musa is his                   
Sundiata is also known as Mari Djata or Marijata according to Arab historian Ibn           
Khaldun in the late 14th century.