The Epic of Kelefaa Saane

The Epic of Kelefaa Saane

Sirifo Camara
Edited and translated by Sana Camara
Distribution: World
Publication date: 4/2/2010
ISBN: 978-0-253-00424-6
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This powerful and popular epic honors the legendary warrior prince of Kaabu and Mandinka cultural hero, Kelefaa Saane. A standard of the griot repertoire, the epic of Kelefaa Saane is customarily taught to young performers at the beginning of their careers. Sirifo Camara’s masterful recitation was recorded in Dakar in 1987. It has been transcribed in Mandinka and is translated into English here for the first time. The epic, as it describes Kelefaa’s life and exploits, relates what it means to be Mandinka. Kelefaa’s extraordinary prowess and virtue derive from the political, social, moral, and theological founding myths of the Mandinka people. This beautiful and engaging performance provides a unique perspective on the intellectual and literary heritage of West Africa.

Author Bio

Sana Camara is Associate Professor of French at Truman State University. He is editor of Wolof Lexicon and Grammar and editor of Sëriñ Muusaa Ka: Melokaani Roytéef [Sëriñ Muusaa Ka: the example of a role model], a compilation of six Wolof poems about the life of the spiritual guide of the Muridiyya brotherhood.


"Historically and literarily important . . . an excellent teaching tool in courses on African history, literature, oral tradition, and folklore." —Jan Jansen, University of Leiden

"[T]his English version makes for exciting reading. The editor provides annotations and ample notes about the performer, the historic setting, and analysis of the text. . . . Recommended." —

"This volume provides a very valuable transcription of a classic African oral text. . . . [T]he work reads very well." —Ralph A. Austen, Research in African Literatures , Volume 42, Issue 2 Summer 2011

"... a valuable work for understanding African poetry traditions ..." —
Journal of Folklore Research , June 30, 2011

"All in all, Sana Camara’s book is one to be reckoned with in the years to come because it is by a “fils du terroir”(a son of the land). It is a welcome addition to the existing resources on African oral literature in general, and Mandinka epics in particular. The book must definitely be read by any student of African oral culture and traditions." —
African Studies Quarterly

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Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments
Note on Spelling and Pronunciation
The Epic
Annotations to the Text
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