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.