society was a reflection for our American society, which provides the idea that the roles of men and women were defined and slavery was seen as a part of the normal culture as it was here at one point. "At the time of Sundiata, slaves were present in Malinke society. Most often, they were war captives who could not be ransomed back to their own people, but people could also be enslaved by someone to whom they owed wealth or service, or because they lost all of the rest of their family through some kind of tragedy. The conditions of slavery varied, but they had little in common with plantation slavery of American history, which treated individuals as economic units of production. Slavery in Malinke society was most often a means to connect individuals to a family where no biological or marriage connection existed. The conditions could still be harsh, but as a "member" of a family, the slave had some rights"

D.T. Niane, Sundiata: An Epic of Old Mali"). Therefore, it is very important to examine that some of the themes in this story is a reflection of American society.


During this story, women are seen as weak in this society as they are viewed in America. As history has revealed in both society, women have been required to submit to men because they are the providers. From there, women in the Mandingo culture are to submit to men around them. "This changed Sundiata in everyone's eyes as they began to realize that the prophecy was true and Sundiata was destined to become a powerful and important man. This incident would lead to Maghan's actions, who would consult with nine witches on how to handle the situation. Another incident during Sundiata's youth was when his griot, Balla Fasseke was taken away from him. Griots are extremely important to kings for they are the public records of the noble families lineages as well the great deeds committed by members within those families. Sundiata losing his own griot was the equivalent of emasculation. Society is polygamous, so children are identified by their mother, since many children can have the same father, but only immediate siblings have the same mother ("Sundiata: An Epic of Old Mali").

In the story, a woman is always being given to a king in order to pay respect or to help one gain favor in the eyes of the king. Along with that, men see women as weak. From there, Sundiata says "a woman trembles before a man'" (Niane 32). This is due to the fact in this society, hunting and physical strength are viewed as dominant features of men, therefore, women are looked down upon because they are somewhat physically impaired.

Within Malinke society, men and women have very precisely defined roles. For instance, women are responsible for raising the children, providing the sauce for the standard meal, and in a farming family, tending to the livestock. Men are responsible for providing the millet used in the meal, maintaining the structure of the house, and handling relations with other families. In addition to their family responsibilities, women in royal families had a diplomatic role to play by marrying into the families of other leaders. The Role of the Family: The family is the essential element of Malinke society. It produces new humans, it is led by elders, and it provides a mans to connect every individual to the group as a whole. Individuals are identified by the names of their family (not by their profession or place of birth) ("D. T. Niane, Sundiata: An Epic of Old Mali").

Furthermore, as in today's American society, even though women are viewed as physical weak, they have mental strength. The strength of Sogolon and Nana Triban are extremely important to the success of Sundiata because she continued to be the center of strength for the Keita family. She also uses her mental strength to forward Sundiata's cause. From there, when her brother, Dankaran Touman gave her to Soumaoro she out smarted him…