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."
"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
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