My name is
They call me
A very long time ago
I won the honor to be the Keeper of
From that day on all stories were called
Anansi Stories… or in the old
My Anansi Stories are old and new
tales that connect us by way of the
Web of Life
One of the most authentic mediums by which to preserve ones culture is through stories. Every child can relate to the whimsical and joyous journeys of exciting characters told to them by loved relatives. The tales spun often have serious life lessons ingrained within them that seek to teach the younger generation about having a conscience and morality to become upstanding citizens of the world.
The tales often are based on the respective culture and lifestyle that the person is living in so each story passed down from generation to generation within different cultures have various means of communication. One such story is the story of Brother Anansi. Who might Anansi be you ask?
Anansi is a West African god who is seen as the god of knowledge of all stories. He is portrayed in the form of a spider (his namesake in Akan) in most tales but can take the form of a man. In stories he is often very mischievous and is referred to as Anansi the trickster. The stories of Anansi are believed to originate from Ghana and have spread to the West Indies, Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles.
The telling of Anansi stories as mentioned previously was and is done primarily orally although efforts have been made to record these stories. The stories of Anansi were used as a source of hope and culture retention and renewal for the Africans during slavery. Sharing these stories within the slave community allowed them to form a cultural rebellion and to empower them through stories. Because aren’t the dreams of one as a result of stories handed down to them?
The stories often present a problem that Anansi faces that usually involves, normally to their detriment, his fellow animal ‘friends’. This form of interaction between animals originated from the belief in Africa in deities and the communication between divine entities, manifest in nature, and man. Lessons learned from these stories were then deemed to be as a result of divine enlightenment that holds applicable knowledge and moral beliefs. Some of these lessons include: not lying, not stealing, not trying to dupe someone else and being courteous to others.
Normally Anansi is the character responsible for committing these acts or, in the more accurate stories, the character that exposes the antagonist through a series of humorous and witty manipulations. All the stories point towards the similar commonality that a person who commits a wrong will undoubtedly suffer the (amusing and whimsical) consequences.
Therefore the stories of Anansi can be considered the Mother Goose, Barney, Pinocchio or Aladdin of the Caribbean; stories that nurture, teach, show through example and cause children to aspire to a higher purpose. The stories that make us human.
By: Alexandra Daley