The epic of Sunjata is an essential piece of African literature because it exemplifies the African structure and most tribal cultures as well. Oral tradition is a history or a story passed down from generation to generation through word of mouth. The story is usually the history of a civilization or culture. A griot or Djeli is the oral historian or storyteller. You can tell a griot by its last name. If they have a name like “Kouyate” or “Dioubate”, or any name ending with “ate” then you know that person is a griot. There are male and female griots. Male griots tell the family history of the male side and females to tell the female side. Griots only marry other griots. When the griot tells the history of a certain family, they use instruments, they sing and dance. It’s more like a performance than just a person telling a story.

Oral tradition is significant in all cultures and societies. The oral tradition tells stories of the past and of how things used to be. Oral tradition also helps to educate the young and to teach important lessons about the past and about life. Since many oral traditions are well put together and are told often without any change, they are as dependable as any history books or as any recordings about a certain culture or being. Oral traditions can be divided into many different types such as legends, myths, folktales, and proverbs. For example, in Sunjata, “God is with the just everybody does what he wants, but God makes the final decision. The chick destined to be a rooster will eventually crow no matter what is laid in its path” (Narrator 1544).

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A few of the ways in which the Manding people’s ideas of what is important in the past differs from the kind of history studied by people who adhere to European standards of scholarship include the point of view that they look at it. Most of the Manding people wrote in terms of their lower class view and when scholars read this, they look at the e…

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