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“Women in Sunjata”: The Way Women Were Treated

The epic of Sunjata features stories of adventures and achievements of the Mande people, both male and female. Thus, the stories allow valuable insight into the roles that women played in society when the epic took place. Similar to the way women were treated in other ancient societies, such as Greek and Indian, women in the epic of Sunjata were valued for their ability to give birth. People believed that women could give birth to a child with heroic destiny (Conrad 17). Thus, even though women were mainly treated as assets and were judged by their beauty and skin color, the chosen ones capable of giving birth to a future hero were as powerful as men.

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The story emphasizes the women’s ability to give birth to a child with heroic destiny by explaining how Maghan Konfara had to marry multiple times to find the future mother of his child. He was first recommended to marry a light-skinned woman, a mulatto woman, and later a black woman, as there is a black woman whose “heart is white” (Conrad 11). The epic emphasizes how outer beauty does not necessarily match the woman’s nature or possibilities, as those who hold the powers of sorcery, such as Sogolon, Sunjata’s mother, were different. Sogolon had enough power to be on the same level as men regardless of her looks; however, she was subjected to the deadly rivalry between her and other wives, who also were sorcerers. Therefore, in the epic of Sunjata, women mostly played the role of birth giver, fulfilling their godlike ability to create life. However, the women who knew sorcery were different and held power on the same level as men.

Work Cited

Conrad, David C., editor. Sunjata. Hackett Publishing, 1974.

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StudyCorgi. (2023, January 25). “Women in Sunjata”: The Way Women Were Treated. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/women-in-sunjata-the-way-women-were-treated/

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StudyCorgi. "“Women in Sunjata”: The Way Women Were Treated." January 25, 2023. https://studycorgi.com/women-in-sunjata-the-way-women-were-treated/.

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StudyCorgi. 2023. "“Women in Sunjata”: The Way Women Were Treated." January 25, 2023. https://studycorgi.com/women-in-sunjata-the-way-women-were-treated/.

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StudyCorgi. (2023) '“Women in Sunjata”: The Way Women Were Treated'. 25 January.

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