Thunder and Anansi:E154
An African folktale about trickster, Anansi, who does something very selfish and greedy, but thanks to Thunder, he ends up having to pay a heavy price for his greediness. (duration -14 minutes) An episode from storytelling podcast, Journey with Story.
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How Will Thunder Teach Greedy Anansi a Lesson in this African Folktale?
Thunder and Anansi
Have you ever met someone what was a bit miserly and selfish? Someone who just did not like to share and wanted to keep everything for herself or himself? How did that make you feel? How do you think you could help someone to be more generous and unselfish?
Hello everyone, I’m Kathleen Pelley Welcome to Journey with Story. Today’s episode is an old folktale from Africa about that character you have met before – the trickster, Anansi, who does something very, very selfish and greedy, but as you will discover, he ends up having to pay a price for his greed.
Let’s take a journey with Anansi and Thunder
THERE had been a long and severe famine in the land where Anansi lived. He had been quite unable to obtain food for his poor wife and family. One day, gazing desperately out to sea, he saw, rising from the midst of the water, a tiny island with a tall palm-tree upon it.
He decided to try and reach this tree—by any means possible—and climb it, in the hope of finding a few nuts to reward him.
But – how to get there was the difficulty.
However, when he reached the beach, he found his answer, for there, he discovered an old broken boat. It certainly did not look very strong, but still, Anansi thought he would try his luck.
His first six attempts were unsuccessful—a great wave dashed him back on the beach each time he tried to put off. But Anansi persevered, and finally, on his seventh attempt, he succeeded in setting off into the water. When he reached the palm tree, he tied the boat to its trunk, that grew almost straight out of the water, and then he climbed up, up, up, toward the nuts.
Plucking all he could reach, he dropped them, one by one, down to the boat. To his dismay, every one missed the boat and fell, instead, into the water until only the last one remained.
This he aimed even more carefully than the others, but it also fell into the water and disappeared from his hungry eyes. He had not tasted even one, and now-they were all gone!
He could not bear the thought of going home empty-handed, so, in his despair, he threw himself into the water, too.
To his complete astonishment, instead of being drowned, he found himself standing on the sea-bottom in front of a pretty little cottage.
An old man stepped out of the door and asked Anansi what he wanted so badly that he had come to Thunder’s cottage to seek it.
Anansi told his tale of woe, and Thunder listened, nodding and smiling and saying how sorry he was to hear of all of Anansi’s troubles.
Then he went back into the cottage and fetched a fine cooking-pot, which he presented to Anansi, saying, “Now you need never be hungry again, for this pot is a magic pot and will always give you enough food to feed you and all your family.”
Anansi could barely believe his good fortune and the thanked the old man profusely, before setting off for home. Once inside the boat, Anansi could not wait to try out this magic pot.
“Pot, pot, what you used to do for your master do now for me.”
And lo and behold, a huge feast appeared before him. Anansi gobbled it all up and then set off for his home.
On reaching land again, his first thought was to run home and give all his family a good meal from his wonderful pot. But then some sliver of fear and doubt crept over him.
“What if I should use up all the magic of the pot on them, and have nothing more left for myself! “ he said. “Better keep the pot a secret—then I can enjoy a meal when I want one.”
And so when Anansi reached his house, he sneaked in the back door and hid the pot in his room, before anyone could see it. Then he pretended to his wife and children that he was completely worn out from his long journey and would need to rest.
Now, there was not a grain of food to be had anywhere. His wife and poor children were weak with want of it, but selfish Anansi took no notice of that. Instead, he congratulated himself at the thought of his magic pot, now safely hidden in his room.
From then on, Anansi just crept into his room whenever he was hungry and enjoyed a tasty meal. Meanwhile his poor family got thinner and thinner, and he grew plumper and plumper.
After a while, his family began to suspect that something was not right and they determined to find out what was going on.
Now the eldest son, Kweku Tsin had the power of changing
himself into any shape he chose; so he took the form of a tiny fly, and accompanied his father everywhere.
At last, Anansi, feeling hungry, entered his room and closed the door. Next he took the pot, and had a fine meal. Having replaced the pot in its hiding-place, he went out, pretending to look for food.
As soon as he was safely out of sight, Kweku Tsin fetched out the pot and called all his hungry family to come at once. They had as good a meal as their father had had. When they had finished, Mrs. Anansi—to punish her husband—said she would take the pot down to the village and give everybody a meal. This she did—but alas! in working to prepare so much food at one time, the pot grew too hot and melted away. What was to be done now? Anansi would be so angry! His wife forbade every one to mention the pot.
In a little while, Anansi returned, ready for his supper, and, as usual, went into his room, carefully shutting the door. He went to the hiding-place—it was empty. He looked around in dismay. No pot was to be seen anywhere. Some one must have discovered it. His family must be the culprits; he would find a means to punish them.
Saying nothing to any one about the matter, he waited till morning. As soon as it was light he started off towards the shore, where the old boat lay. Getting into the boat, it started of its own accord and glided swiftly over the water—straight for the palm-tree.
Anansi attached the boat as before and climbed the tree. This time, unlike the last, the nuts almost fell into his hands. When he aimed them at the boat they fell easily into it—not one, as before, drop- ping into the water.
He deliberately took them and threw them over-board, immediately jumping after them. As before, he found himself in front of Thunder’s cottage, with Thunder waiting to hear his tale. This he told, the old man nodded and listened as before, saying how sorry he was to hear of Anansi’s trouble’s
This time, however, he presented Anansi with a fine stick and told him, “Do not worry. This is a magic stick and it will give you just what you need.” Again, Anansi thanked the old man profusely and went on his way.
He could scarcely wait till he got into the boat so anxious was he to try the magic properties of his new gift. “Stick, stick,” he said, “what you used to do for your master do for me also.”
And at once, the stick began to beat him so severely that, in a few minutes, he was forced to jump into the water and swim ashore, leaving boat and stick to drift away where they pleased.
Then he returned homeward, bemoaning his many bruises and wishing he had acted more wisely from the beginning.
Well, do you think Anansi got what he deserved? But of course, we can’t really beat up people with a stick when they are selfish and greedy, can we? What do you think we can do to help someone not be greedy and selfish? Do you remember WHY Anansi did not want to share the pot with his family? Yes, he was scared – scared that it would run out of food and he would have nothing left for himself. Being scared and afraid can sometimes make us act meanly, or selfishly, so maybe the best way to turn a greedy person into a generous person, is to help them NOT be afraid? Might be a good topic of conversation for you and your friends and family?
Cheerio then. Join me next time for Journey with Story.