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The heroic legends decribed here, re-create the events and annals of the kingdom of Segu and of the Bambara tribe that formed a series of important city-states along the Niger River during the 17th century. The deeds of kings, the exploits of warriors, the sorcery of magicians, and battles against invaders are among the subjects addressed. The stories, transmitted orally, were narrated by the "djeli", traditional keepers of the history of ruling families of the kingdoms that once flourished in the Western Sudan. They speak of valour, honour, intrigues and rivalries between powerful chiefs; they also include some reactions to the colonial encounters. Courlander is an authority on African epic and folklore, and he provides a readable introduction to the history of the Segi empire. Students and the general public should find this collection informative, interesting and easy to read.
University of Massachusetts Press
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