Syncretism: Adapting Religious Beliefs to Traditional Customs

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Historically, the major religions of Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism began to spread across Eurasia and Africa from the 5th century through trade routes and conquest. As these ideas and practices traveled to new and distance places, local populations adapted and transformed many of them in ways that reflected traditional beliefs and customs, also known as syncretism. The rise of rulers, such as Sundiata in Mali helps illustrate this process of partial adaptation, or syncretism, in order to get a boost of support from the subjects of the kingdom. The actions concerning syncretism, can be explanation of the rise of kings such as Sundiata. These examples can be seen through the texts “Sundiata: An Epic of Old Mali”, “Worlds together, Worlds…show more content…
As the Ghana kingdoms fell, their successor the Mali Empire, was built on the success of the dynasty’s founder, Sundiata, who is commonly referred to as Mali’s greatest king. Sundiata’s story can be read in “Sundiata: An Epic of Old Mali”. Mali’s greatest king was born as the subject of a prophesy, to the king of Mali, Maghan Kon Fatta, and Sogolon Kedju, a very ugly woman who was the spirit of a buffalo. King Maghan's first wife, Sassouma, was jealous. She has always assumed that her son, Dankaran Touman, would claim the crown of Mali and now this child stood to threaten what she felt was her son's destiny. Sassouma plotted to kill Sogolon, but the buffalo woman's powers were too great, and the boy was born. He was named Mari Diata, but as the son of Sogolon, he was called Sogolon Diata, which led to Sundiata. Sassouma was relieved when the new child turned out to be lazy, gluttonous and ugly. At three years old, Sundiata could not walk and rarely spoke. Even at seven, the boy still crawled, spent all his time eating, and had no friends. The king was deeply disturbed, he wondered how this pathetic child become a great king. Honoring the hunter's prophecy, the dying king gave his seemingly crippled son a gift that signified his desire that the boy should become king after all. That gift was a griot named Balla Fasséké, the son of the king's own griot. After a spat with Sassouma, Sogolon’s grief made Sundiata walk. Sundiata was fit to claim the throne as his
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