Skip to main content

Ananse Tales From Africa

Anansi is an African folktale character. He often takes the shape of a spider and is considered to be the spirit of all knowledge of stories. He is also one of the most important characters of West African and Caribbean folklore.

Anansi Jamaican Stories of the Spider God

In the time that all creatures still lived together, there once lived a spider named Ananse. He lived in a village with his relatives and all kinds of different critters: hyena, porcupine, squirrel, guineafowl, the chameleon, the warthog and many, many more.

African Fairy tales
Ananse was one of the village elders, and one afternoon he summoned all of his friends and connections to discuss how they could all do more to help each other. Since they were all farmers, they determined it'd be a great idea if they'd all go to help one person each day to plough, weed, harvest, whatever needed doing at the areas or around the house. By way of example, on Monday, they'd start at Ananse's uncle's farm to assist, on Tuesday it would be his grandfather and on Wednesday it'd be his nephew's turn. Ananse set himself in charge of this plan and he saw to it that everyone joined in and helped out. After a month or so or so, he was using a silent sit down in front of the house, and he began believing.

"You know, he said to himself, I think I can see a way to benefit from this arrangement. I could pretend to be really ill, so I can't help out with the others, and by the time I'm well again, all the work on my farm will be done!"

So the morning after, Ananse stayed in his bed, and when his nephew came to call on him told him: "Oo oo yoo, my dear nephew, this body of mine is really sick today, I'm afraid I can't join you today". Ananse's nephew told the others that his uncle was ill. They were all very concerned, and decided that the following day, they'd all go and help out in Ananse's farm. This went on for several weeks, and Ananse's illness got no greater.

A couple of people started to whisper: "It's all very well us helping out on Ananse's farm, when is he going to give us a hand?" Ananse heard the complaints, and realized that he would not be able to pretend for much longer. He decided he'd have to do something to make everybody think that he was really quite ill. The next day he called some of his relatives together and said to them: "This illness of mine has been going on for some time, and it doesn't look as if I'm getting any better. In fact I think I'm going to die". Some of his relatives protested, "No, no, uncle, you won't die!"

But Ananse told them he had been getting weaker all the time, and began producing his funeral arrangements.

"When I die, he said, you should bury me on my brother Kwami's farm.

Kwami consented that his brother might be buried there; after all it is very hard to not give a dying man his last wish. Ananse lasted giving his instructions: they should dig a nice big gap, and line the walls with cloth, so that his spirit would be comfy. They ought to put pots and pans and cooking utensils in the grave, so that his soul would have the ability to prepare meals for himself. Ananse's relations set to work digging the grave, while Ananse himself whined that his illness was getting worse all the time.

Soon he noticed that the grave was finished, and so the next time he saw someone approaching his property, he pretended to be dead. They attempted to wake him, but Ananse wouldn't wake up, so that they decided that he must indeed be dead. The following day they took his body and put it in the grave, which had really been ready they way Ananse had taught. There were pots and pans and cooking utensils. That exact same night, Ananse grew out of the grave and began collecting yams in the area, which he hid in his grave. He cooked some of them. He left fufu with some of them. When daylight approached, Ananse hid in his grave and slept. The next night he gathered more yams, and feasted again. This carried on for a single month. Eventually Kwami noticed that somebody was stealing his yams. He thought hard and long, who could have done this to him? Normally he would have suspected Ananse, because he understood what his adorable brother was similar to, but he was dead, and that he just couldn't think who else might do this for him.

Kwami decided to set a trap. He went to see the carpenter, also obtained some sturdy wooden poles, which he took back to his farm, where he poured tar around them, and put them strategically around his field, like scarecrows. Except these scarecrows weren't meant frighten, but to trap.

Kwami was certain that the thief, whoever he was, could either touch one of those sticks, and receive tar all over himself, or leave a mark of some kind by which he could be identified.

This night when Ananse came out of his grave to help himself for a few more of his brother's yams he instantly seen a figure standing in the center of the field.

"Oh Oh, he thought, somebody's watching me!"

But he detected the figure just stood there, not going at all. His curiosity got the better of him, and he slowly crept up to the figure. As the pole didn't stand quite tall, Ananse guessed it has to be a young boy. He chose to play a trick on the youngster, he crept up to it, and said to it: "I've just seen your mother out looking for you. She said you have to come home to have your dinner".

But there was no response from the scarecrow.

Ananse replicated: "Your mother has been looking for you! Your dinner is waiting for you!"

However there was still no reaction. Ananse got very annoyed at the child's insolence. "Look, I'm talking to you, you vagabond!

Still no response, also Ananse got even more annoyed. With that Ananse gave the scarecrow a big smack, and his hand got stuck in the pitch. He pulled, but he could not get loose.

"Let go of me, you rascal, he shouted. Let go of this hand!"

He cried at the wooden rod to forego his hand, "Let go of me or I'll slap you again!" , and he slapped with his free hand. And immediately that one got stuck in the tar as well. Ananse got more and more agitated and angry.

He kicked the scarecrow with his left foot, which got stuck. He kicked again with his right foot, and that got stuck also. Ananse was now well and truly stuck to the scarecrow, he attempted pulling as hard as he could, but there was no way he was going to pull himself free. At the conclusion he was so exhausted he had to give up, and cried himself to sleep.

Whenever the sun was up, Ananse's brother Kwami came drifting into his field, excited to see whether his plan had worked. He looked around carefully and saw that no more of his yams had been stolen, so that portion of the program had worked. Smiling to himself, he went round to scrutinize the tarred poles, when lo and behold he saw the figure of a spider attached to it. As he hurried nearer he recognized his brother, Ananse.

Kwami exclaimed: "Ananse! Ananse!

Coolly, Ananse replied: "Ananse is indeed dead, it is his ghost you are looking at!"

You might have gathered by now that Kwami was rather naïve, and he was also quite upset, so when he heard those words, he actually believed this was a ghost addressing him. He became really scared and ran away! He ran straight back into the village, calling out to everyone he handed: "Ananse's ghost! I've just seen Ananse's ghost!" People gathered round him, needing to find out more. Kwami told them he'd seen Ananse's ghost, stuck to a pole he had set upon his farm. Obviously the villagers all needed to see this, so that they all started running to Kwami's farm. There they found for themselves the figure of Ananse still glued to the pole.

"You're looking at my ghost!" Wailed Ananse, who by now was becoming very uneasy. The villagers also were scared, and they were going to run off, when Ananse cried out: "Stop, stop! Why are you running away? I'm your relation, aren't I? There's no need to be so scared! And anyway, I need your help! I need help!"

One of the braver men came a little nearer, and inquired: "What kind of help do you need, Ananse brother?"

Ananse replied: "I'm stuck to this tarred pole, can't you see? I need help to pull me free!"

Two or three of them worked up enough courage to approach, and started pulling at him. Ananse was giving them directions: "Pull here, a little more on this side, a little harder here!"

But among the villagers who'd been pulling at Ananse's leg, stood back and scratched his head. "Wait a minute, he said. This is not a ghost! This is the real Ananse. He's not dead at all!"

Each of them stopped pulling and heaving. "Yea, said another, how can a ghost be instructing us to pull here and pull there?" They began hitting him with sticks, throwing mud at him and raining insults on him. After some time Kwami took pity on his brother, and asked them to stop. They pulled him loose, and told him to leave the village, and never to reveal his face again. After Ananse was banned all his family members were so ashamed that they too chose to leave the village, and that is to the very day, whenever you see a spider it is always attempting to hide somewhere, at a crack in the ground or a dark corner, because it is still embarrassed of that which its ancestor Ananse got around to.

Inside this folk story, your child will learn about family honour, the consequences of lying, in addition to how being lazy can assist you in trouble.


Related Post

English Moral Story For Kids : Tom Thumb

English Fairy Tales - Tom Thumb is a character of English folklore. The History of Tom Thumb was published in 1621, and was the first fairy tale printed in English. Tom is no bigger than his father's thumb, and his adventures include being swallowed by a cow, tangling with giants, and becoming a favourite of King Arthur. The earliest allusions to Tom occur in various 16th-century works such as Reginald Scot's Discovery of Witchcraft (1584), where Tom is cited as one of the supernatural folk employed by servant maids to frighten children. Tattershall in Lincolnshire, England, reputedly has the home and grave of Tom Thumb. The History of Tom ThumbIt is said that in the days of the famed Prince Arthur, that had been king of Britain, in the year 516, there dwelt a wonderful magician, called Merlin, the most learned and skilful enchanter on earth at that time.
This great magician, who could assume any form he pleased, was travelling in the disguise of a poor beggar, and being very m…

Polish Folklore - The Legend of the Wawel Dragon

Legend of Polish Folklore- The Wawel Dragon (Polish: Smok Wawelski), also Called the Dragon of Wawel Hill, is a famous dragon in Polish folklore. His lair was in a cave at the foot of Wawel Hill on the bank of the Vistula River. Wawel Hill is in Kraków, which was then the capital of Poland. In some stories the dragon lived prior to the founding of the city, when the region was inhabited by farmers. See the full story of Polish legend at Polish Legends, folklore, myths, and stories In Poland, a long time ago, in a den at the foot of Wawel Hill, there lived a dreadful dragon. None of the people of town Krakow from the poorest beggar to His majesty King Krak did not know where it had come from and how it got there.
Everyone constantly trembled with fear. Always having the frightening idea that the knigths guarding the dragon left their hair stand on end when they discovered the monster roar.

Read to : The Three Golden Hairs of Grandfather Know All
As the days beyond the…

Slovak Legends - The Three Golden Hairs of Grandfather Know All

Slovak Folk Tales - There once lived a King who lost his way while hunting. A charcoal-burner invited the King to stay the night in his small thatched cottage. While there, a son was born to the charcoal-burner's wife. I can't sleep in this drafty hayloft, (peeking through the floorboards at the room below) Who is that old woman with a lighted taper bending over the baby?, read the full story at Slovak Fairy Tales in English
There was once a king who took great delight in searching. 1 day he followed a stag a great distance into the forest. He went on and on and on till he lost his way. Night fell and the king by happy chance came upon a clearing in which a charcoal-burner had a cottage. The king asked the charcoal-burner to lead him from the forest and offered to pay him handsomely.
"I'd be glad to go with you," the charcoal-burner said, "but my wife is expecting the birth of a child and I cannot leave her. Lie down on some hay in the gar…

Czechoslovak folktale - Clever Manka

Clever Manka Story - Clever Manka is the titular character of a Czechoslovakian folk tale. This story is about a woman whose cleverness wins not only the heart of very wise king, but eventually his deep rooted respect. Manka gets "noticed" by the king when she first solves a riddle for her father presented by the king. Curious, the king wants to meet her but first tests her with more riddles, all of which she passes with incredible originality. Finally, they do marry, but the king has only one request. Read the full story. Czechoslovak Fairy Tales and Folk Tales There was once a rich farmer who was as grasping and unscrupulous as he was wealthy. He was constantly driving a hard bargain and always getting the better of his poor neighbors. One of these neighbors was a humble man who in return for service was to get from the farmer a heifer. After the time of payment came the farmer refused to Provide the shepherd the heifer and the shepherd was forced to put the issue before th…

Estonian Fairy Tales - The Egg-Born Princess

Estonian Stories - A queen told an old woman that she had two griefs: a new one, that her husband was at war, and an old one, that they had no children. She gave her a basket with an egg: the queen was to put it somewhere warm. In three months, it would break and let out a doll. She was to let it alone, and then it would become a baby girl. She would have a baby of her own, a son, and she was to put the girl with him and show them both to the king, and then raise the son herself but entrust the daughter to a nurse. Furthermore, she must invite this woman to the christening by throwing a wild goose feather into the air. Read the full story. Estonian Folktales Once upon a time there lived a queen whose heart was sore because she had no children. She was sad enough when her husband was at home with her, but when he was away she would see nobody, but sat and wept all day long.
She was so unhappy that she felt as if the walls would stifle her, so she wandered out into the garden, and threw …