Victor Arndt Dr. Black World History Due 20th October, 2008 Sundiata and War In Sundiata: an Epic of Old Mali we learned that war is a necessity in certain cases. War is sometimes required to defend the home or way of life. When people feel threatened, they will rise up and defend themselves. War can result in death and destruction of properties. In some cases, war is used by an aggressor to capture resources. War is also used to affect justice. The King Soumaoro was a vindictive king. He had so much power and authority that people thought they could not escape his power.
He made his people fear him. Those who did not obey or fear him were brutally killed. As quoted from Sundiata “But Soumaoro was an evil demon and his reign had produced nothing but bloodshed. ”(Sundiata 41). One thing the king greatly enjoyed was to publicly flog poor vulnerable old men. The king had no compassion towards his people and enjoyed seeing others suffer. His people did not appreciate being humiliated, mistreated or taken advantage of. People would soon revolt against their king. King Soumaoro took women from surrounding areas and put them in a village to have his way with them. He had defiled every family and everywhere in the vast empire there were villages populated by girls whom he had forcibly abducted from their families without marrying them. ”(Sundiata, 41). The king was considered to be untouchable and had the ability do what he pleased. Having these women was not enough for Soumaoro, he had to have his own nephew, Fakoli Koroma’s wife. He locked her up and had his way with her whenever he pleased. This made his nephew very irate and caused him to turn his back on him and go to war against Soumaoro. Since you are not ashamed to commit incest by taking my wife, I am freed from all ties with you from this day forward. Henceforth I shall be on the side of your enemies. ” (Sundiata, 42). This is one reason why people would go to war against each other. Most men are very protective of their women. The idea of another man having his wife or daughter locked up to have his way with her caused conflict. Sundiata was an intelligent and thoughtful leader, and a strong warrior. He used the element of surprise against his enemy. The Sossos were surprised by the attack of Sundiata which resulted in a quick battle.
Sundiata knew that he could not allow Soumaoro any amount of time to attack Tabon. “We must not allow Soumaoro the time to attack Tabon. ” (Sundiata, 49) He knew he had to seize the moment. This was a very smart move on Sundiata’s part because he knew that he did not have much time before more lives would be lost and possibly another kingdom. Sundiata and Soumaoro met and the battle of Negueboria begun. The audience was introduced to the types of weapons used. There were soldiers on horses, with swords and spears. Soldiers from surrounding areas would also come and join in the battle.
Among them were ground soldiers and skilled archers, who played an important role in war. Tactics were the same as most armies of the time. The archers fired arrows into the enemy until the cavalry or ground soldiers reached who them. War was fought hand to hand, sword to sword, and face to face. There are also parts of the story that depicted Soumaoro as a mythological person or creature. It was said that a sword “bounces off his chest like a rock that fell to the ground. “ (Sundiata, 52). This is definitely not true, but the griot tells it this way to show how people thought of Soumaoro’s power and strength.
Due to how Soumaoro had treated his people, the surrounding villages welcomed Sundiata and were more than willing to fight by his side. “Side villages opened their gates to Sundiata. In all of these villages Sundiata recruited soldiers. ”(Sundiata, 54). Sundiata also had reinforcements from all the rebellious kings of the savanna country. Fakoli had gone south to recruit more troops. The people were not only fighting for pride, they were fighting for their families because Soumaoro had either taken or abused them in public.
Sundiata knew it was time for justice and peace. Before the battle of Krina, Sundiata and Soumaoro would send owls back and forth to communicate their reasons for war. The two of them sending owls back and forth is not true. However, this proves that people had to tell their reasons for war, before they began fighting. The king or person was not to rage war against someone for no reason, like Soumaoro had done to so many others. In the battle of Krina, justice and peace prevail. Soumaoro finally got what he deserved, for all the wrong and evil doings.
Sundiata, while with Fakoli by his side, fired and killed Soumaoro with a cock spear. “The one was avenging his humiliated country while the other was prompted by the love of a wife. (Sundiata, 66). This shows the love that Sundiata had for his people by risking his own life for their happiness. As seen in Sundiata, war was used as a means of bringing peace and justice to the kingdom. Sundiata protected the people by going to war with Soumaoro. Soumaoro mistreated and took advantage of the poor commoners. The king would steal their women, take goods, and tax heavily.
Krina was a battle Sundiata inflicted upon Soumaoro, because of the things he was doing to his people and his kingdom. These events portrayed how and why war was brought upon a person or kingdom in a West African society. Justice was served when Sundiata claimed what was finally his, the throne. Conflict was resolved when all of the women and young girls were set free from captivity. Peace would reign after the city was destroyed. These events demonstrate what happens when people are abused, mistreated, and humiliated. Many people lost their lives and families, but this was the price to pay for freedom, love, and happiness.