Original Research

L’héroïsme de la femme dans l’épopée africaine : un regard critique de Soundjata ou l’épopée mandingue, Emperor Shaka The Great : A Zulu Epic et Nsongo’a Lianja : l’épopée nationale des Nkundo

Arthur Mukenge, Josue B. Nkaongami
Literator | Vol 39, No 1 | a1419 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v39i1.1419 | © 2018 Arthur Mukenge, Josue B. Nkaongami | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 22 May 2017 | Published: 30 April 2018

About the author(s)

Arthur Mukenge, Department of French Studies, Rhodes University, South Africa
Josue B. Nkaongami, Department of French Studies, Rhodes University, South Africa


The Heroism of women in the African Epic: A critical analysis of Sundiata or the mandingo Epic, Emperor Shaka The Great: A Zulu Epic and Nsongo’a Lianja: The national Epic of the Nkundo. In African epics, female figures perform salient heroic roles that are, unfortunately, not widely recognised and celebrated, as notions of bravery and heroism are understood from a male perspective. Against this backdrop, this study adopts new critical and conceptual approaches to interrogate existing narratives, discourse and ideas on/or about female heroism. By focusing on selected epics, this work incorporates perceptions about women in folktales whose themes comment and reflect on the presentation of female characters and the roles they execute in society. The present contribution critically examines the role of supernatural forces in female characters’ commitment and heroism; not only protecting Soundiata, Shaka, and Lianja in accomplishing their destinies but also showcasing the activities, traditions, belief systems and culture of the Mandingo, Zulu, and Mongo in their respective societies.


Female figures; supernatural forces; heroism; crucial roles; destiny


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