International Journal of
English and Literature

  • Abbreviation: Int. J. English Lit.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-2626
  • DOI: 10.5897/IJEL
  • Start Year: 2010
  • Published Articles: 278

Full Length Research Paper

Depiction of human society through epic literary genres: A comparative perspective of the function of two African heroic epics

  • BAZIMAZIKI Gabriel
  • University of Rwanda, College of Education, School of Lower Secondary Education, Department of Arts and Social Sciences, P. O. Box 55 Rwamagana, Kayonza- Eastern Province, Rwanda.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 16 May 2016
  •  Accepted: 08 July 2016
  •  Published: 30 June 2017


This study attempts to compare two main literary works. One is Niane’s Sundiata: An Epic of Old Mali. Another is Kunene’s Emperor Shaka the Great, a Zulu Epic. The study aims at showing how Literature mirrors society through a comparison between the protagonists in the above mentioned epics basing on their heroic characteristics each. This is a qualitative study and is basically concerned with a particular aspect of narrative which is the central character in epic literary genres. The main aim is to depict the image of human being in the world around him through M. Kunene’s Emperor Shaka the Great, A Zulu Epic J. T. Niane’s Sundiata: An Epic of Old Mali. The study is framed on Campbell’s Theory of The Hero’s journey mainly because it involved the quest theme. The researcher looks at the relevance of the epic genres in African society, as well as how literature is a didactic tool at historical, ethical and socio-cultural levels. It has been found that epic literature conveys the message of heroism, patriotism or strong attachment to motherland connected with human’s destiny which cannot be altered by human power. 


Key words: Heroic epic, protagonist, destiny, quest, the function of literature.