This week I finished reading a book most of you have probably never heard of (unless you are from West Africa), The Epic of Sundiata. It is Mali’s national epic and is a fictionalized biography of Mali’s first emperor, Sundiata Keita. He turned Mali into the strongest empire in the region, creating a formidible trade power profiteering off of Mali strategic location. Because his story passed orally from generation to generation, many obvious embellishments exist within the narrative. Western scholars have dissmissed oral accounts as being unreliable, however any discerning reader should be able to sort fact from fiction and The Epic provides a rare look into life in 13th century West Africa.
The entire narrative follow’s closely with the Hero’s Journey as described by Joseph Campbell. For those of you not aware, the Hero’s Journey is a lazy ass formula used in multimillion dollar franchises such as Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, The Matrix, recently with the Hunger Games, and too many other stories to count. One noted example is Lion King, which some Sundiata readers have even accused Disney of copying from. I and many other classmates noticed the resemblance, however there are a couple major differences which lead me to conclude they are merely to monomyths set in Africa. Sundiata’s father was known as the “Lion”, so I guess he was a literal Lion King.
I really enjoyed the Epic of Sundiata. It is a quick read at only 85 pages, so it is well worth your time.
First of all, let me make it clear that NOBODY (except for maybe some very kind friends and family) would want to watch a movie about my life. My life as I have had it so far, anyway; who knows what may happen down the road. I challenge you to find something that would be film worthy:
I lived in Japan until I was six, which was far too young for me to know the difference between there and America; living on a US Army base especially blurred that. I actually did some modeling for Japanese magazines as they have a big demand for gaijin children so readers will want to get these clothes because Americans supposedly wear them. The first few years following my family’s return to Washington is excrutiatingly dull. After then I was involved with Boy Scouts for several years. My original troop dissolved because my dad was the scoutmaster but he got deployed to Iraq and there was no one to replace him. That was followed by a few years where I was very lonely and depressed much of the time, most of my time was spent playing PC games. Then I joined another troop and while it was very rewarding it would make a horrible movie.
The last few years have been a bit more film worthy. My time at junior college was much like my time in the second troop I was in. I won far more accolades though. I have allready blogged quite a bit about my time in Costa Rica and Montana, so click on those catagories if you want to know more about all that. Here I am now, I have left my Theological literature class and am killing time until my African Civilization class. Every hour seems like a juggle between reading Boethius, Gogol, and the Epic of Sundiata.
If anyone could make a rough concept of adapting any of these events into a film I will be highly impressed.