Three extracts from different versions of the Sundjata epic, which is as yet the best known and most widely admired of African epics. Sundjata is a historical figure (he died in 1255), and the Sundjata legend comes down to us from a period of turmoil in West African history when the ancient empire of Ghana was in decline. The Ghana empire (the name of which was resurrected by the modern state of Ghana at Independence, though in a different place) had existed from the eighth to the twelfth centuries, covering an area which incorporated parts of the present day Mali, Mauretania, Chad and Senegal.

After it had happened
That Sundjata’s mother had become pregnant,