Segments in this Video

Mandé Creation Story (04:08)


We learn how the first Mandé king Maghan Kon Fatta named himself Konate, which means "no one hates you." A man sets out on a journey from his African village to a nearby town.

A Mysterious Guest (03:46)

Djïliba Kouyaté arrives at Mabo Keita's home. He comes from Wagadu, where the boy's ancestor Konate became ruler of all men. He recognizes Mabo's mother as "Orange Blossom" from legends; she welcomes him.

Daily Life in the Keita Family (03:00)

Mabo arrives to school just in time. Mabo's father Keita has to go to work; Djïliba Kouyaté will tell him about his mission when he returns. His wife attends to their guest. Mabo solves a math equation; the teacher praises him.

An Antelope During Drought (01:59)

Mabo asks guest Djïliba why his ancestors are named Konate when his surname is Keita. The wise man begins a story about the king of the Mandé people.

A Soothsayer (03:20)

A hunter brought an antelope offering to the Mandé king according to their custom. He read the ruler's fortune in cowry shells; predicting he would marry an ugly woman and produce a son to rule his kingdom.

Lessons in Heritage (01:30)

The Mandé king was unhappy about the hunter's cowry shell prediction. Djïliba explains to Mabo that leaders don't always have a choice in their actions. Keita arrives home from work; his wife invites everyone to eat.

Mission to Educate About Tradition (04:55)

Mabo's mother apologizes to Djïliba for cooking a Western meal. After dinner he informs Mabo's parents of his duty to teach the boy about his Mandé ancestry. His mother is concerned he will be distracted from exams—tensions arise.

A Modern African Household (02:21)

Mabo's parents go to a wedding. Bintou, a hired helper, comes to cook; Djïliba is surprised Mabo's mother doesn't do the housework. He returns to the tale of Mabo's ancestor.

Buffalo Story (03:42)

Djïliba tells Mabo of an angry buffalo terrorizing the people of Do. Two Mandé brothers decided to hunt it. As they rested, a turtledove directed them to a woman who knew the buffalo's secret. They found her but she refused to talk to them.

A Mandé Promise (03:58)

Two hunters offered a grumpy woman food in exchange for information on a buffalo; she reveald she was the animal. She agreed to give her life on the condition that they choose the ugliest Do woman as a prize; she must bear a son.

Distraction at Home (02:32)

Mabo's parents return early from a wedding because they are nervous about their houseguest Djïliba. His mother asks if he has studied while they were out; he has been listening to the storyteller instead.

Western vs. Traditional Education (04:32)

Mabo's teacher drills the class on American history; Mabo gets in trouble for day dreaming. His parents argue over whether or not they should allow Djïliba, the family griot, to continue teaching him the story of his Mandé ancestry.

Conquering the Buffalo (02:00)

As two Mandé hunters fled an angry buffalo, they tossed a distaff that turned into a palm grove. A stone provided a rock mountain and an egg a muddy swamp. The buffalo sank and turned into a woman; the hunters killed her.

Honoring a Promise (03:33)

Two hunters asked for a Do maiden as a prize for killing a buffalo. They chose Sogolon, "the ugly one", and returned to Mandé . On the way they informed her they helped her mother—the buffalo—to die.

Attempting to Keep Their Word (03:18)

Two Mandé hunters argued over who would impregnate Sogolon as they had promised her mother. She turned into a porcupine; they agreed to bring her to their king. Djïliba tells Mabo the moral: there is always someone stronger than you.

Drawn to Heritage (01:51)

Djïliba requests Keita accompany him to prayer. Keita’s prayer rug is missing—his wife Seitan won't help him find it. Mabo returns from school, claiming the teacher is sick. Djïliba resumes his story of the boy's Mandé ancestry.

Nuptial Difficulties (03:13)

Djïliba tells Mabo the story of how his ancestor, the Mandé king, married an ugly woman to fulfill a prophecy. On the wedding night the bride turned into a series of animals to deter the consummation.

Unusual Pregnancy (03:16)

A Mandé king tried to consummate his marriage for seven months. Finally his griot had a solution which would save the kingdom's destiny: to make her faint from fear. Djïliba describes the 18 month gestation period to Mabo.

A Child is Born (03:29)

Sogolon delivered a boy. A master hunter came to congratulate the Mandé king; he predicted the baby would be the future king. The eldest son was upset; he was next in line for the throne—laws change but destiny does not.

Struggle Between Tradition and Modernity (05:12)

The king's first wife was jealous of his infant son Sundjata; she wanted her son to inherit the throne. Djïliba and Fofana argue over Mabo's education; finally the Western teacher concedes to the Mandé ancestral storyteller.

A Cruel Fate (02:54)

Mabo tells his friends the story of Sundjata, the Mandé king's crippled son. His mother Sogolon never gave up hope that he would someday inherit the throne according to prophecy.

Passing on Ancestral Knowledge (01:44)

Mabo tells his friends the story of Sundjata, the Mandé king's crippled son. His mother Sogolon didn't give up hope that he would someday inherit the throne according to prophecy.

Consulting a Wiseman (03:24)

The Mandé king asked a griot if his crippled son Sundjata would walk. The answer: yes, someday. As the king died he bequeathed his kingdom to Sundjata according to prophecy, although the young man still couldn't walk.

Attempting to Walk (05:49)

After the Mandé king died, his first wife imposed her son on the throne—against his wishes. The queen insulted Sogolon about her crippled son. He tried to stand up using an iron rod but broke it.

Sundjata Stands Up (03:24)

An old man advised Sogolon to bring her crippled son a branch; he used it to walk. Mabo stops telling the story; he is waiting for the storyteller to finish it. He and his friends are punished for missing school; the teacher dismisses him.

A Grave Offense (02:46)

Mabo's teacher has dismissed him from school. Djïliba tells him not to worry and resumes the story of his ancestry. Threatened by Sundjata walking, the queen sent away his griot. He gave her son an ultimatum: to return his storyteller or face death.

Exile from the Mandé Kingdom (02:06)

Sundjata left the village with his mother and younger siblings—but he warned his half brother he would return for the throne. Mabo asks Djïliba about his name; the griot says the story has just begun. The school master arrives to Mabo's home.

Confrontation (02:52)

Mabo's school teacher has dismissed him; his parents are furious. They force him to choose between Djïliba's story and his Western education. The griot leaves the Keita home; his final advice is to honor his Mandé heritage.

Past Becomes Future (02:03)

Mabo runs after Djïliba but he is already gone; the hunter from his Mandé ancestral story is there instead. He tells the boy other griots will finish the story—and then disappears.

Credits: Keita: The Heritage of the Griot (02:03)

Credits: Keita: The Heritage of the Griot

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Keita: The Heritage of the Griot

3-Year Streaming Price: $199.95



In this story-within-a-story, Mabo Keita, a young boy living in contemporary Burkina Faso, receives a message from a traditional storyteller (griot) that he must “learn the meaning of his name.” Mabo is a descendent of Sundiata Keita, legendary founder of the Mali Empire and hero of The Epic of Sundiata. As Sundiata Keita comes to understand his role in Mandé history, so the younger Keita grasps the scope and significance of his heritage—a lesson that was not taught in his school’s Westernized curriculum. French and Jula with English subtitles. (94 minutes)

Length: 97 minutes

Item#: BVL49727

Copyright date: ©1995

Reviews & Awards

“Filmmaker Dani Kouyaté is the son of a griot himself; in Keita he tells a dazzling tale.”  —Le Monde

“Kouyaté has mastered the art of filmmaking in the same way his ancestors mastered the art of storytelling...This is the importance of his film: the blossoming of African historical film-making.”  —Review Noire

Performance Rights

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Not available to Home Video and Dealer customers.

Only available in USA and Canada.