Tag Archives: African tales

Anansi and the Sky God

The interlocutor (RS) is an African-American woman whose parents told her this story as a child.

DESCRIPTION: (told through video call)
(RS): “I know that there is an African folktale about this spider called Anansi basically to teach children not to make bad decisions. Does that work?”

(INT): “Yeah, that’s good.”

(RS): “‘Kay, good. So the Anansi is basically this spider, right? Right. There’s a lot of stories about him, because he was this trickster guy, like, like, like… Loki from Marvel, I guess? Yeah. So there used to be this sky god dude and one day Anansi was like, “Hey buddy, I want all the stories people to tell about you to be about me, yeah? What do I gotta do?”

And the sky god was like, “I don’t know, my guy. Prove you’re worthy and stuff,” and then he was like, “Do these THREE tasks and you can get my stories, but these are also mad difficult, ‘kay?'”

(INT): “What were the tasks?”

(RS): “Relax, woman, I’m getting there. So the tasks were like… ‘get me a whole swarm of bees,’ and ‘bring me a python,’ and ‘get me a leopard,’ just casual stuff that you’d buy at the grocery, yeah? Yeah.” (She laughs.)

“So Anansi managed to get the bees with like, a gourd and some honey, I don’t really know, and then like he tricked the snake into coming with him, and then he bamboozled that silly little leopard because Anansi is a bitch.”

(INT): (laughing) “Okay.”

(RS): “So after KIDNAPPING these poor creatures, he goes up to the sky god and is like, “Bitch, give me my stories.” And the sky god’s like, “Ugh, fine. Here you go.” And that’s what happened! All the sky god’s stories about his greatness and stuff went to that bitch-ass spider. Annoying little guy. He’s smart though. I guess.”

RS’s interpretation of this tale was a lot of fun to listen to! I’m still unclear about whether or not there’s some kind of moral to this story. I’m not very familiar with a lot of African folklore, but the story of Anansi definitely reminds me of other stories about tricksters that I know of, such as the Norse god Loki (as RS mentioned) or even fox figures in short stories and tales.