Site hosted by Build your free website today!

Kwaku-Ananse the spider once went to the Sky God, Nyankonpon, to try to buy his stories.  The Sky God said, "What makes you think you could buy my stories? The richest villages have all tried, and have all failed."

Kwaku-Ananse asked, "What is the price?" "The price is Oninithe python; Osebo the leopard; Mmoboro the hornet swarm; and Mmoatia the spirit."  The spider replied, "I will bring you all these things and my mother, Nsia, too.

The spider went home and told his mother, Nsia, and his wife, Aso, what the Sky God had said. "How can I catch Onini?" he asked. "Go and cut a branch from a palm tree and a length of vine, and bring them to the stream," said Aso.

Kwaku-Ananse did as he was told, and then he and Aso began to argue over the branch.  "It's longer than he is," said Aso. "You lie," replied Ananse. "He is longer." The python overheard and, overcome with curiosity, asked what the quarrel was about.  Ananse replied, "My wife, Aso, says that this palm branch is longer than you and I say it is not."

So Onini the python stretched himself full length along the branch.  As he did so, Ananse trussed him tight with the vine, all the way up to his head.  Then Ananse and Aso turned their attention to Mmoboro the hornet swarm. Aso told Ananse what to do.  He cut a gourd and filled it with water, and carried it to where he could see the swarm hanging from a branch.  He spilled half of the water on the hornets, and half on himself.  Then he cut a plantain leaf and put on his head, calling out, "Hornets!  It is raining! I am sheltering under this leaf, but you have no protection. Why don't you come into this gourd to keep dry?"

So the hornets flew into the gourd, and Ananse slapped the plantain leaf over the opening and trapped them inside.

Then Aso told Ananse to dig a pit.  He dug it on the path between Osebo the leapard's lair and the stream, and covered it with leaves.  At dawn he went to the pit.  There, helpless at the bottom, was the leopard.  There remained the spirit Mmoatia to catch.  Aso and Ananse carved a doll from wood and plastered it with sticky gum from a tree.  Then they set the doll down where the tree spirits play, with a brass basin beside it containing an appetizing mash of yams.  When the spirits came, Mmoatia saw the doll and asked it, "Can I have some yams?" The doll did not reply.  So the spirit slapped the doll's cheek, and her hand stuck fast.  She slapped it again; her other hand stuck, too.

Then Ananse went to the Sky God with Onini the python, Osebo the leopard, Mmoboro the hornet swarm, Mmoatia the spirit, and Nsia, his old mother.  The Sky God called all the other gods to him, saying, "See! Great kings have come seeking my stories, but were not able to buy them.  But Kwaku-Ananse has paid the price and added his mother, too.  Therefore, today and forever I make a gift of my stories to Ananse the spider, and now they shall be known as Spider-Stories!"

African Tales IndexThe Rabbit Steals the Elephant's DinnerRain and Sun