Part IV Summary: Soumaoro Kante, the Sorcerer King

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During Sundiata's years of exile, his griot, Balla Fasseke, had been at the court of Soumaoro Kante. This evil king's power is legendary. His town of Sosso is fortified and invincible, his own palace a seven-story tower in the center of town. On the seventh floor he keeps his fetishes, magic charms that are the source of his evil power. Soumaoro Kante has conquered all the surrounding peoples, including the people of Mali.

One day Balla Fasseke stumbles into the fetish room. Carpeted in human skins, the room contains the heads of the nine kings that Soumaoro had conquered. A giant snake, owls and fantastic weaponry also fill the room. The griot spots a magic balafon, or xylophone, that he began to play, bringing the ghoulish chamber to life. Soumaoro knows that someone had touched his xylophone, and he raced to the chamber to kill the intruder. Balla Fasseke, hearing the king's arrival, improvises a tune in honor of the sorcerer king. The song so pleases Soumaoro that he decided to make Balla Fasseke his own griot.

The evil king continues attacking and subjugating lands, ruling his people in terror. In an ultimate outrage, Soumaoro steals the wife of his own nephew and chief general, Fakoli Koroma. Fakoli swears revenge, and the men of many lands attacked by Soumaoro answered Fakoli's call to arms. As Dankaran Touman seeks to join the revolt, Soumaoro again invades Mali. Dankaran flees, leaving his villages to be pillaged and the capital city of Niani to be burned to the ground. Soumaoro proclaims himself king of Mali, but some villagers remember the words of the soothsayer and form resistance groups loyal to the prophesied king of Mali, Sundiata. No one knew where to find the exiled king, however.

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Part III Summary: Sundiata in Exile


Part V Summary: The Return of Sundiata