Spiders in Legends Around the World Part 3: Ghana and the Legend of Anansi

Once there were no stories in the world. Kwanku Anansi the spider once went to Nyan-Konpon the sky god in order to buy the sky god’s stories. The sky god said, “What makes you think you can buy them?” The spider answered, “I know I shall be able.” Thereupon, the sky god said, “Great and powerful towns like Kokofu, Bekwai, Asumengya have come and they were unable to purchase them, and yet you who are but a masterless man, you say you will be able?”

The spider said, “What is the price of the stories?” The sky god said, “They cannot be bought for anything except Onini the python, Osebo the leopard, Mmoatia the fairy, and Mmoboro the hornet.” The spider said, “I will bring some of all of these.”

The sky god said, “Go and bring them then!”

Anansi set about capturing these. First he went to where Python lived and debated out loud whether Python was really longer than the palm branch or not as his wife Aso says. Python overheard and, when Anansi explained the debate, agreed to lie along the palm branch. Because he cannot easily make himself completely straight a true impression of his actual length is difficult to obtain, so Python agreed to be tied to the branch. When he was completely tied, Anansi took him to the sky god.

To catch the leopard, Anansi dug a deep hole in the ground. When the leopard fell in the hole Anansi offered to help him out with his webs. Once the leopard was out of the hole he was bound in Anansi’s webs and was carried away.

To catch the hornets, Anansi filled a calabash with water and poured some over a banana leaf he held over his head and some over the nest, calling out that it was raining. He suggested the hornets get into the empty calabash, and when they obliged, he quickly sealed the opening.

To catch the fairy he made a doll and covered it with sticky gum. He placed the doll under the Odum (Tree of Life) where the fairies play and put some yam in a bowl in front of it. When the fairy came and ate the yam she thanked the doll which of course did not reply. Annoyed at its bad manners she struck it, first with one hand then the other. The hands stuck and Anansi captured her.

Anansi handed his captives over to Nyan the sky god. The latter said, “Kawku Anansi, from today and going on forever, I present my sky god stories to you, kose! kose! kose!my blessing, my blessing, my blessing! No more shall we call them the sky god stories, but we shall call them the spider stories!

This is my story which I have related. If it be sweet, or if it be not sweet, take some elsewhere, and let some come back to me.

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