Anansi Stories

Story telling was a cen­tral part of the life of our ances­tors. Back then, it rep­re­sented their enter­tain­ment, as well as their way of pass­ing on the her­itage to their gen­er­a­tions. Anansi sto­ries were ranked the most pop­u­lar, but their were other such as “Big Boy sto­ries”, “Duppy sto­ries” (ghost sto­ries), and “River Mumma sties” (mer­maid stories).

The name Annancy or “Anansi” is the Ashanti (West African group) word for “spi­der” which sym­bol­izes wis­dom. Anansi is a cen­tral myth­i­cal char­ac­ter of the story who was quite an imag­i­na­tive ani­mated char­ac­ter. In the sto­ries, Anansi was gen­er­ally called “Brer Anansi” (Brother Anansi), his wife was called “Crooky”, and his son was called “Tacooma”. Anansi had other ani­mal asso­ciates in his adven­tures, namely, “Brer” (Brother) Snake, Dog, Tiger, Puss and Monkey.

What made these sto­ries so inter­est­ing was that Anansi’s weak­ness and strengths lies in his cun­ning char­ac­ter. This cun­ning char­ac­ter was also what gave Anansi his great charm. Anansi is known as the “like­able ras­cal”. Other char­ac­ter­is­tics of Anansi is that he speaks with lisp speech, he is com­i­cal and heroic. The sto­ries of his doings are agree­able. The lis­ten­ers are usu­ally cheer­ful and made to feel bet­ter after a story.

In the past, it was cus­tom for the grand­moth­ers to tell Anansi sto­ries to her grand­chil­dren or fam­ily as bed­time sto­ries. On a sad note, with the pas­sage of time the Anansi story cus­tom has passed away. Jamaican chil­dren today know lit­tle or noth­ing about Anansi except for his name. Some adults may scarcely even remem­ber the entire story, if they attempted to tell one.

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