This powerful and popular epic honors the legendary warrior prince of Kaabu and Mandinka cultural hero, Kelefaa Saane. A standard of the griot repertoire, the epic of Kelefaa Saane is customarily taught to young performers at the beginning of their careers. Sirifo Camara's masterful recitation was recorded in Dakar in 1987. It has been transcribed in Mandinka and is translated into English here for the first time. The epic, as it describes Kelefaa's life and exploits, relates what it means to be Mandinka. Kelefaa's extraordinary prowess and virtue derive from the political, social, moral, and theological founding myths of the Mandinka people. This beautiful and engaging performance provides a unique perspective on the intellectual and literary heritage of West Africa.
Publisher: Indiana University Press
Number of pages: 224
Weight: 454 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 18 mm
'The story of Kelefaa is told in thousands of different versions.' So writes Camara (Truman State Univ.) late in this book. This version is splendid and long, nearly six times the length of either of the English versions Gordon Innes presents in Kelefa Saane: His Career Recounted by Two Mandinka Bards (1978). And this is an almost wholly different version. Of no historical importance, Kelefaa Saane was simply a heroic warrior, a mid-19th century figure of Kaabu, a confederation of Mandinka states in modern Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, and Gambia. Kelefaa Saane died through treachery while aiding another warrior. Yet his is one of the most popular story-songs of a region rich in epics. A patron of Senegambian music recorded Sirifo Camara's version in Dakar in 1987; accompanied by kora, this version was sold in tapes on the street. Sana Camara acquired a cassette, and it became the basis for this version, which he presents exactly as performed in the original Mandinka language with the English translation on facing pages. Despite the difficult jump from oral to written text, this English version makes for exciting reading. The editor provides annotations and ample notes about the performer, the historic setting, and analysis of the text. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. --ChoiceD. Westley, Boston University, December 2010
"[T]his English version makes for exciting reading. The editor provides annotations and ample notes about the performer, the historic setting, and analysis of the text.... Recommended." -Choice
"This volume provides a very valuable transcription of a classic African oral text.... [T]he work reads very well." -Ralph A. Austen, Research in African Literatures, Volume 42, Issue 2 Summer 2011
"... a valuable work for understanding African poetry traditions..." -Journal of Folklore Research, June 30, 2011
"All in all, Sana Camara's book is one to be reckoned with in the years to come because it is by a "fils du terroir"(a son of the land). It is a welcome addition to the existing resources on African oral literature in general, and Mandinka epics in particular. The book must definitely be read by any student of African oral culture and traditions." -African Studies Quarterly
"Historically and literarily important... an excellent teaching tool in courses on African history, literature, oral tradition, and folklore." -Jan Jansen, University of Leiden
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