This abridged rendition of the story of Sunjata Keita, founder of the Mali empire, is valuable for several reasons. Firstly, it is an opportunity for listeners to appreciate the soaring vibrato voice of Hawa Kassé Mady Diabaté, a true master of the art of the griot.
Accompanied on the balafon by Fodé Lassana Diabaté, Hawa Kasse Mady performs segments from the epic Mandinka poem with Professor Chérif Keita contributing a poetic translation into English.
This performance summarises the events that take place within the whole poem, and provides a useful introduction to the complete narrative. These episodes from the life of Sunjata Keita have been rendered in song by many of Mali’s finest musicians in productions that relate the story in greater detail.
I think this provides a fine overview of the Sunjata story that we can explore more thoroughly in future posts.