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The Heart of the Ngoni: Heroes of the African Kingdom of Segu Paperback – September 1, 1994


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New Adult Fiction by Rainbow Rowell
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Univ of Massachusetts Pr; Reprint edition (September 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0870239295
  • ISBN-13: 978-0870239298
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #823,109 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Whitehouse on January 23, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is a collection stories from the Malian kingdom of Segou that date back in most cases a few centuries. Harold Courlander and Ousmane Sako did an extraordinary job with the translation: it reads almost like a piece of modern fiction, but retains some of the original poetry of the Bambara language from which it was adapted.
The tales themselves deal mostly with heroes: children born to noble destinies, chiefs leading their armies into battle, and adventurers out to make names for themselves. These heroes are exclusively men; while there are some notable women characters, in most cases they couldn't be considered role models. I was impressed with the Bambara traditions of ancient warfare: when one village wanted to attack another, for example, its army showed up a day ahead of time to announce its intentions. The two armies would then spend the night drinking and feasting together, and the following morning would line up for battle outside the village gates. Honor was paramount, and these stories recount time and again great leaders who sacrificed countless followers' lives for the sake of honor.
That's one of the disturbing aspects of these stories. Another is the characters' unshakeable belief in destiny. Mystics and diviners are frequently consulted to reveal the future, and if they say that a boy will become a king, or will die young, then there is no getting around it. None of these characters questions his foretold destiny, nor does anyone surpass expectations. Bambara was rigidly structured not just by caste and clan, nobility and slave status, but also by a universal faith in fortune tellers.
Anyone seeking a faithful and engaging perspective into a pre-colonial Malian society will find "Heart of the Ngoni" very helpful.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
By reading the legends of the Bambara, one can get a good idea of what the values of the culture may be. The emphasis they place on their family and ancestors and other values is woven into these timeless stories very nicely. It also accents the similarities between cultures, as there were many legends that reminded me of Western legends. The vignettes were short and sweet, but I did not really like the way they were just thrown together, and I think they could have flowed better had they been arranged in a different way. Therefore, I wouldn't recommend reading the book front to back but to skip around instead.
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