Characters in Son-Jara
Son-Jara Keita: The hero of the epic and the founder of the Mali Empire. He is the son of Fata Magan the Handsome and Sugulun Kòndè. He is also called Nare Magen Kònate.
Bèmba: The apprentice of the bard who tells the story, and often leads the answering chanting/singing.
Bilal: The prophet Mohammed’s friend and follower who originally came from Ethiopia. He is Son-Jara’s ancestor, and gives Son-Jara currency as representative of Islam.
Dankaran Tuman: Son-Jara’s half-brother and rival, he is the son of Fata Magan and Saman Barete. Although he was born first, the fact that his birth was announced second made him designated the second son. He still maintains the power to exile Son-Jara, but while Son-Jara is in exile, he loses control of the Manden to Sumamuru.
Dan Mansa Wulanba and Dan Mansa Wulandin: The two brothers from the Manden who kill the magic bull (formerly Du Kamisa) with a magic spindle.
Du Kamisa: The aunt of Magan Jata Kòndè who was excluded from the family by her nephew, although she helped raise him. When she complains, he banishes her and cuts off her breasts. As a result, she turns herself into a buffalo and dedicates her life to killing her nephew’s people whenever she comes across them.
Doka the Cat: The bard of Son-Jara. Sumamuru tries to steal him away, but when he refuses to serve the evil ruler, Sumamuru injures him – a major insult to Son-Jara.
Fa-Koli: Sumamuru’s nephew. He changes loyalty to Son-Jara after Sumamuru steals his one wife, despite the fact that Sumamuru already has 100 wives.
Fata Magan the Handsome: The father of Son Jara and the King of the Manden.
Kala Jula Sangoyi: The first griot to sing the story of Son-Jara.
Magan Jata Kòndè: The ruler of the Twelve Towns and nephew of Du Kamisa. He excludes her, exiles her, and cuts off her breasts. After she turns into a buffalo and starts killing his people, his land has to be rescued by the two Dan Mansa brothers. As their prize, they receive Sugulun Kòndè, Son-Jara’s future mother, and take her back to the Manden.
Nakana Tiliba: Son-Jara’s paternal aunt who was given to the Dan Mansa brothers in exchange for Sugulun Kòndè. She is the main Queen of Darkness, leader of the nine queens of darkness who are Son-Jara’s surrogate mothers. They are powerful sorceresses who teach Son-Jara magic.
Saman Berete: The first wife of Fata Magan the Handsome and the mother of Dankaran Tuman, his true first-born son. Her anger that Son-Jara will supplant her son makes her curse him to be crippled, and he remains that way for nine years. Later, she is behind his banishment.
Sugulun Kòndè: The mother of Son-Jara. She is covered with warts and considered the “ugly maiden.” The Dan Mansa brothers bring her to the Manden from the Twelve Towns, where they received her after killing the buffalo (Du Kamisa). They trade her to her future husband and the father of Son-Jara, Fata Magan.
Sugulun Kulunkan: The sister of Son-Jara who helps him out by seducing Sumamuru so that she can spy on him. When Sumamuru’s mother warns him that Sugulun Kulunkan is dangerous, he cuts off his own mother’s breasts.
Sumamuru: The evil Blacksmith King. He is a powerful sorcerer who wrests control of the Manden from Son-Jara’s half-brother Dankaran Tuman while Son-Jara remains in exile in Mèma. Sumamuru is far more evil than Dankaran Tuman, and he is the one whom Son-Jara must defeat in order to become king of the Manden. He is also called Susu Mountain Sumamuru because of his size.
The Manden: The land of Son-Jara. After he wins control of it from Sumamuru, it becomes the capital of the Mali Empire.
Mèma: The land where Son-Jara goes after he is exiled from the Manden by his half-brother, reminiscent of Mohammed’s exile to Medina from Mecca.
The Twelve Towns of Du: The land ruled by Magan Jata Kòndè, the one who treated his aunt Du Kamisa so badly and caused her to become a killer buffalo. The land is rescued by the Dan Mansa brothers, who receive Magan Jata Kòndè’s subject and Son-Jara’s mother Sugulun Kòndè as a prize from the king.
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