nan koman jan

Cronmueller Smith, Margit. 2011. The Mande Kora: A West African System of Thought. University of Maine at Augusta.

(Nan Koman Jan)

pp. 62–3

And the remarkable thing is, that all Manding people who live in Ivory Coast for example, when asked about their origin, start by telling you about this snake. The Koyara for example, who live in Bankolo, tell you, that they came from Manding. And they continue, mixing up Manding and Wagadu, that there was a large python, which, after it had been killed, threw its bad omen on the people. The area of the people living in the West of Manding is the natural extension of Manding, and these people trace their background to the snake. The people who live around Kong are separated by an important block of Senufo. Therefore, they do not speak about the snake, but about their dispersion after the big war, when they left Manding. According to Wa Kamisoko, this war was the war of Nan Koman Jan.

Q: Is there a relation between Sunjata and Nan Koman Jan, since Sidiki usually ends his version of Boloba with Nan Koman Jan?

A: Boloba is infinite in character. One knows that it deals with Sunjata's succession. One adds all events of the various reigns of Manding and there are reasons that the piece Nan Koman Jan is the last one. We should probably place Nan Koman Jan during the 17th century. He was born into the royal family by a slave woman who originally came from the Senufo area. When Nan Koman Jan's father died, he asked to receive a part of the power. Customarily, he would have been named chief of a province. But, since his inheritance was bypassed, he started a war of revenge against Manding. While in exile in Kong, he formed a powerful army which spread bloodshed to Manding. But, before this war ended, he fell. The song Nan Koman Jan was conceived because Nan Koman Jan was without pity, killing even members of his own family. Therefore, the jelilu took their instruments and told his story. Not many words are used in the song other than repeatedly his name and praise of his power. But, Nan Koman Jan led a life of vengeance, he did not have an objective to form a unified kingdom, but to avenge himself.

p. 77

Q: How do you begin the Sunjata Fasa?

A: I start by playing Boloba. After Boloba, I play Sunjata, Janjon, and if I want to, Julu Kara Neyin, Nanamuru, Lassidan, Kulanjan, and once more Lassidan.

Q: I have heard you finishing Sunjata Fasa with different pieces at different performances, most frequently you end by playing Nan Kuman Jan. How do you decide on the end?

A: I can finish with any of the above pieces or with Nan Koman Jan.