Baba Wague Diakite, author, storyteller, and illustrator of our amazing Vol. 2 cover image, tells us a story from Malian mythology about the baobab tree and Sundiata Keita, the creator of the great Malian empire.

Malian mythology tells a story of the baobab tree and Sundiata Keita, the creator of the great Malian empire.

Sundiata was the king’s second son. He was a weak child, due to a curse from the king’s first wife. Sundiata crawled on his stomach until he was 15 years old. One day, he found his hunched-back mother crying in the courtyard. “Mother, why are you crying?” He asked. “I have no baobab leaves for my sauce and no one to gather them for me. I am the ridicule of all the kingdom,” she answered.

Sundiata called his aide to fetch an iron bar. Sundiata reached up and grabbed the bar, dragging his bulky body up and onto his feet. All were amazed to see the bar bent in half and the Sundiata the weakling standing. He strode out of the courtyard and came to the base of a great baobab tree. Grabbing the tree’s trunk in his arms, he pulled and pulled until he had uprooted the mighty tree. He dragged the entire baobab back into his mother’s courtyard and presented her with all of the baobab leaves she could desire. 

This was the event that began Sundiata’s ascendancy to become the great leader of all the surrounding kingdoms, and eventually the creator of the great empire of Mali.

Wagué does workshops worldwide on art, singing, and storytelling.

Find out more about Baba Wagué Diakité and his art:

Learn about his nonprofit Ko-Falen Cultural Center::

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