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The Manden Charter

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Abstract:

The Manden Charter
(Abstract)



This paper opens up a discourse on a subject that Mandenka griots (jeliyu) had guarded for centuries, that is, until Malian historian Youssouf Tata Cisse took up the life long task of probing the master griots of Mali for the deeper meanings and functions of history. His curiosity and patience paid off when Wa Kamissoko, the doyen of Malian griots at the time, revealed secrets of ancient Malian history that had only been related to the belen tigi (masters of the word), the highest order of initiated griots. Cisse published a series of texts of Wa Kamissoko’s brilliant discourses between 1974 and 1988 that has changed the way we view the evolution of the Mali Empire.

According to Kamissoko—whose discourses have been corroborated by many other initiated griots since his divulgence--the real factors that led to the formation of the empire revolved around the issue of slavery and the slave trade that was rampant in thirteenth century West Africa. Sundiata Keita, the first emperor of Mali, led a revolution in the region to put an end to the slave trade and the institution of slavery and then united the various ethnic groups under the laws of the Manden Charter and Constitution. The Manden Charter eloquently defines the basic rights of human beings, depicts the horrors of slavery and the slave trade and proclaims its abolition throughout the empire. Some African scholars are now claiming that this document represents perhaps one of the earliest and most beautifully composed proclamations against slavery in the world.

The fact that slavery continued and reached another peak during the Atlantic Slave Trade raises certain questions that will be the focus of our discussion. What were the socio-economic conditions in West Africa that precipitated the emergence of the Mali Empire? Why was the Manden Charter, which was a solemnly sworn oath made by all nations within the empire, broken? What were the consequences for breaking the oath?
Why did the griots collectively decide to efface the Manden Charter from the official history? What impact did the Manden Charter have on West African political economy and on the creation of the African Diaspora?
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Association:
Name: 95th Annual Convention
URL:
http://www.asalh.org


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p435132_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Kai, Nubia. "The Manden Charter" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 95th Annual Convention, Raleigh Convention Center, Raleigh, North Carolina, Sep 29, 2010 <Not Available>. 2014-11-27 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p435132_index.html>

APA Citation:

Kai, N. , 2010-09-29 "The Manden Charter" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 95th Annual Convention, Raleigh Convention Center, Raleigh, North Carolina <Not Available>. 2014-11-27 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p435132_index.html

Publication Type: Individual Paper
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: The Manden Charter
(Abstract)



This paper opens up a discourse on a subject that Mandenka griots (jeliyu) had guarded for centuries, that is, until Malian historian Youssouf Tata Cisse took up the life long task of probing the master griots of Mali for the deeper meanings and functions of history. His curiosity and patience paid off when Wa Kamissoko, the doyen of Malian griots at the time, revealed secrets of ancient Malian history that had only been related to the belen tigi (masters of the word), the highest order of initiated griots. Cisse published a series of texts of Wa Kamissoko’s brilliant discourses between 1974 and 1988 that has changed the way we view the evolution of the Mali Empire.

According to Kamissoko—whose discourses have been corroborated by many other initiated griots since his divulgence--the real factors that led to the formation of the empire revolved around the issue of slavery and the slave trade that was rampant in thirteenth century West Africa. Sundiata Keita, the first emperor of Mali, led a revolution in the region to put an end to the slave trade and the institution of slavery and then united the various ethnic groups under the laws of the Manden Charter and Constitution. The Manden Charter eloquently defines the basic rights of human beings, depicts the horrors of slavery and the slave trade and proclaims its abolition throughout the empire. Some African scholars are now claiming that this document represents perhaps one of the earliest and most beautifully composed proclamations against slavery in the world.

The fact that slavery continued and reached another peak during the Atlantic Slave Trade raises certain questions that will be the focus of our discussion. What were the socio-economic conditions in West Africa that precipitated the emergence of the Mali Empire? Why was the Manden Charter, which was a solemnly sworn oath made by all nations within the empire, broken? What were the consequences for breaking the oath?
Why did the griots collectively decide to efface the Manden Charter from the official history? What impact did the Manden Charter have on West African political economy and on the creation of the African Diaspora?


Similar Titles:
Shaping Charter Schools: Political, Educational, and Fiscal Context of the Local Charter School Movement in California

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