How Anansi Became King Of All Stories
Once upon a time, all tales and stories belonged to Nyame, the Sky God. But Anansi, the spider, yearned to be the owner of all stories known in the world, so he went to Nyame with the request that he be named King Of All Stories and offered to buy them.
Nyame told Anansi that Chiefs, great warriors and powerful families had not been able to pay Nyame or meet his demands. He asked Anansi, "What makes you think that you will be able to do it? Do you think you can do it?"
Anansi replied, "I can do it. What is the price?"
Nyame, the sky God, then said to Anansi, "You could get the title only if you could catch Osebo, the jaguar, with teeth like daggers, Mmoboro, the hornets, whose sting is like fire, and Onini, the great python. For these things I will give you the title of King Of All Stories and the right to tell all the stories."
"Very well," Anansi said. "I shall bring them to you."
Anansi first made a small hole in a gourd. He then filled a bowl with water and went to the tree where the hornets lived. He poured some of the water over himself, so that he was dripping. He then threw some water over the hornets, so that they would think it was raining.
Then he put the bowl on his head, and called out to the hornets, "Are you foolish people? Why do you stay in the rain? Come here, in this dry gourd."
The hornets flew into the gourd's small hole. Anansi plugged the hole with a ball of grass, thus had tricked Mmoboro into pretending it was raining.
Anansi took his gourd full of hornets to Nyame, who said, "There are two more things." Anansi returned to the forest and cut a long bamboo pole and some strong vines. At a nearby river, he sat on a log; he waited until a snake came along.
Then he walked toward Onini, the great python, talking to himself in a very loud voice and pretending to be arguing with someone. "I say he is longer and stronger. My wife says he is shorter and weaker. Is she right or am I right? I am right, he is longer and stronger."
When Onini, the python, heard Anansi talking to himself he said, "Why are you arguing with yourself?"
Kwaku Anansi replied, "Ah, I have had a dispute with my wife. She says you are shorter and weaker than this bamboo pole. I say you are longer and stronger."
Onini said, "It's useless to argue when you can find out the truth. Bring the pole and we'll measure."
So Anansi laid the pole on the ground, and the python stretched himself out beside it.
"You seem a little short." Anansi said. The python stretched further.
"When you stretch at one end, you get shorter at the other end." Anansi said. "Let me tie you at the front so you don't slip."
Anansi tied Onini's head to the pole, then went to the other end and tied the tail to the pole. He wrapped the vine all around Onini, until the python couldn't move.
"Onini," Anansi said, "it turns out that my wife was right and I was wrong. You are shorter than the pole and weaker and you are now my prisoner."
Anansi carried the python to Nyame. "I'm impressed," he said, "you've done two of the three. Now bring me Osebo, the jaguar and the stories are freed."
Anansi dug a deep pit in the forest where the jaguar liked to walk. He covered it with small branches and leaves, so that it was impossible to tell where the pit was. When Osebo came prowling in the black of night, he fell to the bottom of the pit.
When morning came, Anansi saw the jaguar there. "Osebo," he asked, "what are you doing in this hole?"
"I have fallen into a trap." Osebo said. "Help me out."
"I would gladly help you," Anansi said, "but I'm sure that if I bring you out, you'll get hungry and want to eat me and my children."
"I promise it won't happen!" Osebo said.
Anansi then bent a tall green tree toward the ground, so that its top was over the pit, and he tied it that way. Then he tied a rope to the top of the tree and dropped the other end of it into the pit.
"Tie this to your tail," he said. Osebo obeyed.
He cut the other rope, the one that held the tree bowed to the ground. The tree straightened up with a snap, pulling Osebo out of the hole. He hung in the air head downward. As he twisted and turned, he got so dizzy that Anansi had no trouble tying the jaguar’s feet with vines.
Anansi took the dizzy jaguar, all tied up, to Nyame, saying, "Here's the third thing. Now I have paid the price."
Nyame said, "Anansi, great warriors and chiefs have tried, but they have been unable to do it. You have done it. Therefore, I will give you the tales. From this day onward, all stories belong to you and, whenever a man tells a tale, he must acknowledge that it is Anansi's tale."
And that is why, in parts of Africa, the people love to tell, and love to hear, the stories they call 'spider stories'. And now you have heard one too.
Gourd-a hard skinned fleshy fruit of a climbing plant.