BAMANA, MANINKA, DYULA ETC.

The Mande language family has many members, spread over the territory of the old Empire of Mali and its environs. Migration and trade have spread speakers and their languages across West Africa, although in some cases the differences between languages of different names are relatively slight and it seems more appropriate to call them dialects of the same language (e.g. Bamana, Maninka, Dyula). Bamana is spoken in central Mali, Maninka is spoken in western Mali and eastern Guinea; Dyula is the name for the same language in Côte d'Ivoire, and comes from the term for trader.

The differences might also be considered historical. The Maninka look back to the empire of Mali, founded by Sunjata in the early 13th century; the Bamana dissociate themselves from that empire and are represented in pre-colonial history rather by two states on either side of the middle Niger valley that existed in the 18th - 19th centuries, Kaarta on the north bank and Segou on the south. The Dyula, while claiming a Mande origin, are generally Muslim and do not look back to periods of political hegemony; they also live outside the territory of the empire.

This set of listings is divided into four sections; because of their length they are given as separate pages:

Following the listing of narratives is a bibliography of sources. Please note that, particularly for Sunjata and Segou, I have included narratives of all sorts to allow comparison of versions and perspectives. Versions originally recorded in other languages (Mandinka, Wolof, Pulaar) are also listed under those languages.

A.Sunjata

The empire of Mali, which lasted in various forms from the 13th to the 17th century, plays a unique role in regional oral tradition. Mali is the center to which many surrounding traditions of origin attach themselves. This is particularly obvious for the Gambian Mandinka, who look back to Tira Magan Traore as the leader who led the migration into the Gambia and whose story is usually told as the end of the epic of Sunjata, but it applies to other peoples as well.

The epic is rarely performed in its entirety, except at the request of researchers, radio stations, or schools. Rather, the jeli (griot, singer) will choose a section of the epic that seem appropriate to the occasion and the audience. A significant component in performance are the praise-songs that embellish the narrative line and allow the performer to link the performance with the members of the clan being praised who are present (and who will feel compelled to reward the singer with gifts). A given performance thus shifts between the narrative and the lyric interpolations, and on certain occasions the balance certainly swings towards the latter. One can recognize praise-names and lines that occur in performances of the Sunjata in the recordings of popular singing stars such as Oumou Sangare and Kandia Kouyate.
Performer Title

Bibliographic Reference

Language Date
Anonymous Histoire de la puissance mandingue...

Quiquandon 1895



French
1890s
Performer Title

Bibliographic Reference

Language Date

""

Simanguru et Sun-Dyata

Monteil 1966: 166-170.



French
ca. 1898

" "

The Mande and Sunjata

Arnaud 1912 pp. 166-172



French
ca. 1905?

""

La légende de Soundiata

Vidal 1924 pp. 317-328



French
1920s.

""

La flèche magique

Guillot 1950: 54-73

1950?
Episodes de la légende de Soundiata

Humblot 1951 Notes Africaines 111-113



French
ca. 1950
Babu Conde Le maître de la parole

Camara Laye, 1978

Maninka ca. 1970
Mamadi Conde Fakoli

Conrad 2000, pp. 75-93

Maninka

English

1981

""

Fakoli and Sumaworo

Conrad 2000, pp. 95-127

Maninka

English

1981
Bakary Diabaté Soundiata

Sadji 1985, pp. 11-38

Khassonke

French

Kele Monson Diabate Epic of Sunjata

Moser 1974, pp. 205-328

Maninka

bilingual

March 1968
** "Coming of Sunjata's Ancestors"

Bird 1972, pp. 443-448

Maninka 1968
** Kala Jata (epic of Sunjata)

M. M. Diabate 1970 a

Maninka 1968?
** Sunjata Faasa

M.M. Diabate, 1970b (Janjon)

Maninka 1968
** L'aigle et l'épervier (epic of Sunjata

M. M. Diabate, 1975

Maninka 1968?
** Le lion à l'arc (epic of Sunjata)

M.M. Diabaté 1986

Maninka 1968?
** N.B. These differing publications seem to be based on the same performance as given in Moser 1974.
Lansine Diabate L'Épopée de Sunjata

Jansen 1995

Maninkabil: M-F 1992
Performer Title

Bibliographic Reference

Language Date
Mamadi Aissa Diakite Sunjata and the Mande

Adam 1904 pp. 39-47

Arabic MS

French

ca. 1900

""

Histoire de la lutte...

Delafosse 1913 pp. 19-30

Arabic MS

French

ca 1900
Yeli Fode Gibate Mande Sunjata

Michael Jackson 1979, pp. 101-103

Kuranko

English

1970
Kanku Madi Jabate Epic of Sunjata

Jabatel 1987, pp. 76-289

Maninka

bilingual M-F

ca 1985
Amadou Jebate Sunjata's Childhood

Jebate 1980, pp. 108-125

Mandinka

bilingual M-F

ca. 1980
Mahan Jebate Histoire du Manding

Sory Camara 1976, pp. 265-78, 307-320

Maninka

bilingual M-F

1970
Wa Kamissoko L'Empire du Mali

Kamissoko and Cisse 1988, 1991

Bilingual, M-F 1975
Kande Kanote Légende de Soundiata

Zeltner 1913, pp. 1-36

Khassonke

French

ca. 1910
Banna Kanute Sunjata

Innes 1974, pp. 136-259

Mandinka

bilingual

1969
Dembo Kanute Faa Koli

Innes 1974, pp. 260-323.

Mandinka

bilingual

1968
Ibrahima Kante L'épopée du Manding

Kante, Kaba, Conde. Typescript

Maninka

French

ca. 1975?
Mamadou Kante Makan Sunjata and Simangourou

Meyer 141-146

Pulaar

French

1976-1979
Ibn Khaldun Story of Mari Diata

Levtzion and Hopkins, p. 333

Arabic 1393-4
Kieba Koate aka Korongo Die Sunjattalegende

Frobenius, Atlantis V pp. 303-331

Maninka?

German

ca. 1910
Tiemoko Kone Soundiata

Doucoure 1970 CELHTO

Maninka

bilingual

ca. 1970
Demba Kouyate Sunjata

Conrad 2000, pp. 157-202

Maninka

English

1987
Performer Title

Bibliographic Reference

Language Date
Jeli Fayala Kouyate Kamanajan and Islam

Conrad 2000, pp. 45-53

Maninka

English

ca. 1992
Mamadou Kouyate Soundiata ou l'épopée mandingue

Niane 1960

Maninka?

French

pre-1960
Mamary Kouyate Sunjata

Conrad 1981, pp. 711-718

Maninka

English

16 Aug. 1975
Jeli Mori Kouyate Ancestors, Sorcery, and Power

Conrad 2000, pp. 55-73

Maninka

English

pre-1991
Sanassy Kouyate Village Issues and Mande Ancestors

Conrad 2000, pp. 17-44

Maninka

English

1980-82
Noah Bokari Marah Rivalry of Half-brothers

Jackson 1979, pp. 97-98

English 1970
Ali Sawse Lion of Manding

Courlander, Treasury pp. 71-78

Wolof

English

1950
Mamby Sidibe Soundiata Kéita, héros historique ...

Sidibe 1959, pp. 41-50

French Prose 1937
Fadigi Sisoko The epic of Son-Jara

Johnson 1978, vol. 2; Johnson 1986

Maninka

English

1967
Magan Sisoko Sunjata

Johnson 1978, vol. 3

Maninka

English

1974
Jeli Baba Sissoko Wagadu and Sunjata

Conrad 1981, pp. 649-710.

Maninka

English

24 July 1975
Habibou Sissoko Sunjata

Zeltner pp. 37-45

Khassonke

French

ca. 1910
Bamba Suso Sunjata

Innes 1974, pp. 34-135

Mandinka

bilingual

1969




N.B. John W. Johnson reports possession of a number of unpublished versions of the Epic of Sunjata: Mamadi Diabate, recorded in Kela in 198\74 (untranslated MS); Kele Monson Diabate, recorded in Kita in 1974 (untranslated MS); Banzumana Sisoko, recorded in Segu in 1973 (bilingual with English)[see Johnson 1978]; Alkaw Kone, recorded in the Kaarta in 1974 (bilingual with English) [see Johnson 1978]. David Conrad has recorded an 11-hour performance by Djanka Tassey Conde of Fadama which he is preparing for eventual publication.

References

M.G. Adam. Légendes historiques du pays de Nioro (Sahel). Paris. Augustin Challamel, 1904.

Robert Arnaud. La singulière légendes des soninkés: traditions orales sur le royaume de Koumbi. In L'Islam et la politique musulmane en Afrique occidentale française. Paris, Comité de l'Afrique française, 1912.

Charles Bird, ed. and trans. "Bambara oral prose and verse narratives." in African Folklore, ed. Richard Dorson. New York: Anchor Books. 1972. pp. 441-477.

Sory Camara. Gens de la Parole. Paris: Karthala, 1992. First printed Mouton, 1975.

David C. Conrad. The Role of Oral Artists in the History of Mali. Dissertation, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, 1981. 2 volumes.

David Conrad. Epic Ancestors of the Sunjata Era. Madison: University of Wisconsin African Studies Program, 2000.

Maurice Delafosse. Traditions historiques et légendaires du Soudan Occidental. Publication du Comité de l'Afrique française. Paris. 1913.

Maurice Delafosse. 1913. "Histoire de la lutte entre les empires de Sosso et du Mande." in Traditions historiques et légendaires du Soudan Occidental. Paris. Reprinted in Notes africaines83 (July, 1959) pp. 76-80. (extract of previous publication).

Massa Makan Diabaté. 1970a. Kala Jata. Bamako, Editions populaires.

-----. 1970b Janjon et autres chants populaires du Mali. Bamako. Editions populaires.

-----. 1975. L'aigle et l'épervier. Paris, Jean Oswald.

-----. 1986. Le Lion à l'arc.. Paris, Hatier.

Lansana Doucoure and Mme. Martal, eds. L'épopée de Soundiata de Tiemoko Kone. Niamey, CELHTO 1970.

Leo Frobenius. Dichten und Denken im Sudan. Atlantis V. Iena, Eugen Diederichs. 1925.

René Guillot. La Brousse et la Bête. Paris, Librairie Delagrave, 1950.

P. Humblot. "Episodes de la légende de Soundiata" Notes Africaines 52 (1951), pp. 111-113

Gordon Innes, ed. and trans. 1974. Sunjata: Three Mandinka Versions. London, School of Oriental and African Studies.

Kanku Madi Jabaté. 1987. L'Histoire du Mande, collected, translated, and annotated by Madina Ly-Tall, Seydou Camara and Bouna Diouara. Paris, Association SCOA.

Michael Jackson. 1979. "Prevented Successions: A Commentary upon a Kuranko Narrative" in R.H. Hook, ed. Fantasy and Symbol: Studies in Anthropological Interpretation. London, Academic Press. pp. 95-131.

Jan Jansen, Esger Duintjer, and Boubacar Tamboura. L'Épopée de Sunjara d'après Lansine Diabate de Kela. Leiden, University of Leiden Center for Non-Western Studies, 1995.

Amadu Jebaate.1980. "La jeunesse de Soundiata." ed. and trans. D. Creissels and S. Jatta. Recueil de Littérature Mandingue. Paris. pp. 108-125.

John William Johnson. 1978. The Epic of Son-Jara: An attempt to define the model for African Epic Poetry. Ph.D. Dissertation, Indiana University. 3 volumes.

John William Johnson. 1986. The Epic of Son-Jara According to Fa-Digi Sisoko: A West African Tradition. Bloomington, Indiana University Press.

Wa Kamissoko and Youssouf Tata Cisse. 1988. La grande geste du Mali. Paris, Karthala/Arsan.

-----. 1991. Soundjata, la gloire du Mali. Paris, Karthala/Arsan.

Ibrahima Kante, "L'épopée du Manding." ed. and trans. Kaba Kante. Typescript, Kankan c.a 1970. In Northwestern University Library, Herskovits Collection.

Camara Laye. Le maître de la parole. Paris, Plon 1978. English translation by James Kirkup. The Guardian of the Word. New York, Aventura, 1980/1984.

Levtzion, Nehemia, and J. F. P. Hopkins. 1981. Corpus of Early Arabic Sources for West African History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Gerard Meyer, ed. and trans. Récits épiques toucouleurs: la vache, le livre, la lance. Paris: Karthala/ACCT 1991.

Charles Monteil. "Fin de siècle à Médine." Ed. Vincent Monteil. Bulletin de l'IFAN, Series B, 28 (1966), pp. 82-172.

Rex Moser. Foregrounding in the Sunjata, the Mande Epic. Dissertation, Indiana University, 1974.

D. T. Niane. Soundiata, ou l'épopée mandingue. Paris, Presence africain, 1960.

Quiquandon, F. "Histoire de la puissance mandingue." Bulletin de la Société de Géographie Commerciale de Bordeaux 2nd series, 15 (1892), pp. 305-318; 369-387; 401-429.

Abdoulaye Sadji. Ce que dit la musique africaine. Paris: Présence Africaine, 1985.

Ali Sawse and David Ames. 1972. "The Lion of Manding." in Harold Courlander, ed. A Treasure of African Folklore. New York, Crown.

Mamby Sidibe. "Soundiata Kéita, héros historique et légendaire." Notes Africaines 82 (April 1959) pp. 41-50.

J. Vidal. "La légende officielle de Soundiata." Bulletin du Comité d'études historiques et scientifiques de l'Afrique occidentale française 7 (1924), pp. 317-328.

Franz de Zeltner. Contes du Sénégal et du Niger. Paris: E. Leroux, 1913.

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