Elitism vs populism in the West African epic: the politics of 'Sunjata'.
The epic is a political genre whose function is to calibrate the power of the masculine warrior, or aristocracy, at the expense of other social groups. This is the understanding of the African oral narrative the Mende 'Sunjata'. It focuses on the conquering founder of the Mali Empire. The dominant idea of the epic is of hunting, limited in membership to the male. Despite this the appeal of the epic is in its subversive relationship to the hegemonic patriarchal order.
Paper presented at the Wits History Workshop: Democracy; Popular Precedents, Practice and Culture, 13 -15 July 1994. Copyright free
Elitism , Populism , West Africa , Africa, Western , Sunjata (African epic) , Mende (African people)