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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Islam in the Oral Traditions of Mali: Bilali and Surakata
Author:Conrad, David C.
Periodical:The Journal of African History
Geographic term:Mali
Subjects:Islamic culture
oral traditions
Religion and Witchcraft
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Education and Oral Traditions
History and Exploration
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/181837
Abstract:New trends are developing in the uses of African oral tradition for historical purposes that hold promise for satisfying results at other levels of emphasis. For example, Joseph Miller accomplished something in this direction with a collection of essays examining the nature of narrative traditions. According to Miller, the historian's task regarding one principal structural element of narrative, the cliché, is first to identify it and then attempt to discern to what more complex historical reality it refers. The general approach in the present paper is not dissimilar to that of Miller and his specialists in that the two West African traditions studied are not examined as possible records of the past (as perceived by the narrators) from which some grain of historical fact might be uncovered. Instead, they are treated as sources of information about how some West African oral traditionists moulded available materials into their representations of the past. The focus here is on two characters commonly found in the repertoires of Bambara and Mandinka bards: Bilali, a noble ancestor figure in some versions of the Sunjata legend, and Surakata, traditionally claimed by Manding griots as their collective progenitor. Notes, sum.