Sundiata Keita, The true lion king of Mali
The epic of king Sundiata Keita of Mali was the inspiration for the Disney film the lion king. However the film itself just scratched the surface of the richness in culture, heritage and history of the actual story.
‘David Winiewski’s 1992 picture book version of the african epic “Sundiata, Lion king of Mali” and the actual historical account of the 13th century lion king, Sundiata, are both badly served by Disney’s “The lion king”. Disney has been praised for using african animals as story characters; for using the african landscape as a story setting; for using african artwork as design motifs: and for using african- american actors as the voices for the film characters. If the film succeeds in having african culture accepted by people usually resistant to recognizing any other culture but their own, then it deserves to be noted for this small breach in the racial divide. Nevertheless, in the larger sense, the film diminishes the culturally rich heritage of history and story from which it derives. Sundiata was the 12th son of the king of Mali, and he was viewed by the kings “griot” as destined for greatness. He grew to manhood in exile, but he returned to fight the evil forces of his brother and return the kingdom to it’s rightful sovereignty. The film converts the real heroes private pain and struggle against truly wrenching physical and political disabilities into a screen situation of sentimental, tearjerker shallowness. An interdisciplinary approach would allow English and social studies teachers to present the epic from a historical and literary perspective.’ (Paterno 1994)
This story belongs to be amongst epics such as Gilgamesh from Mesopotamia, ancient Greek the Iliad, Aeneid of Italy and the wonderful story of Beowulf from Anglo-saxon literature.
This is a story of a True king who founded the west african kingdom of Mali an empire whose marvels left a bright heritage of culture, riches enlightenment and ancient wisdom. Infact one of the pearls of this empire Timbuktu, many times over ignited the imagination of western explorers and ironically this same splendour prompted European exploration of the west coast of Africa.
Paterno, Domenica R.The True Lion King of Africa: The Epic History of Sundiata, King of Old Mali.Education Resources information Center.1994