Bredda Anancy &
Jamaican Folk Tales

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Much of our Jamaican folk tales are centered around the illusory Bredda Anancy. Growing up, anancy stories and drama were a must at every holiday or community event. Needless to say they were great fun!

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Anansy (Anansi) is a trickster figure originated in west African folk culture, and still prominent there- especially in among the Ashanti (Akan) people of Ghana. Our fore parents who were brought here as slaves carried the stories of Anansy with them.

jamaican_folk_tales_anancy

As a trickster, Anansi often outwits his opponents - but sometimes the trickster himself gets tricked. (You win some, you lose some!)

Like most tricksters, Anansi is not very nice - you can admire his wisdom, but he can also be wicked and cruel.

Anansi would really like to be able to get something for nothing: and sometimes he manages to do just that, but other times his lazy habits and greediness get him into really big trouble.

Martha Warren Beckwith in her book "Jamaica Anansi Stories" did a great job in seeking to retain this aspect of our culture. She captured over a hundred tales from individuals all over Jamaica.

Here are two popular Jamaican folk tales!

Anansy and Rabbit

Brar Nansi and Brar Rabbit went for a walk one day.Brar Rabbit ask Brar Anansi to show him 'daytime trouble'.

An' while dey go on, Brar Anansi saw Tiger den wid a lot of young Tiger in it. Brar Anansi took out one an' kill it an' give Rabbit a basket wid a piece of de Tiger's meat to carry for de Tiger's fader, an' took Rabbit along wid him to Tiger's house an' tol' Brar Rabbit to han' Tiger de basket.

Anansi run, an' Tiger catch at Rabbit to kill him, but he get away. Brar Anansi run up a tree an' say, "Run, Brar Rabbit, run! run fe stone-hole!" Took a razor an' give it to Rabbit.

An' Tiger got up a lot of men to get Rabbit out de hole an' Tiger sent for Reindeer to dig him out, as he had a long neck to put down his head an' dig him out; but Anansi tol' Rabbit when Reindeer put down his head in de hole, he mus' tak de razor an' cut it off.

A lot of people gadder to see Reindeer tak Rabbit out of de hole, but instead, Reindeer head was taken off an' he drop an' was dead an' de whole crowd run away wid fright.

After Rabbit come out, Brar Nansi say to him,

"Brar Rabbit, so 'daytime trouble' stay. So, as long as you live, never ask anybody to show it to you again!"

Fire Fool Anancy

Anansi an' Fire were good frien'. So Anansi come an' see Fire an' dey had dinner. So he invite Fire fe come see him now.

So Fire tell him he kyan't walk, So Fire tell him from him house him mus' lay path dry bush, an' him walk on top of dry bush.

Anansi married to Ground Dove. Ground Dove tell him no, he mustn't invite Fire; him wi' bu'n him house an' bu'n out himself. Anansi wouldn't hear what him wife say, an' he laid de trash on.

An' Fire bu'n from him house, an' when he come near Anansi house he mak a big jump, bu'n Anansi, bu'n him house, bu'n eb'ryt'ing but him wife. Fire fool Anansi!!!

By the way, You can read the entire collection of Martha Warren Beckwith Jamaican folk tales here or here.

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References: 

  • http://mythfolklore.net/3043mythfolklore/reading/jamaica/background.htm
  • http://www.staidenshomeschool.com/africa/anansithespider/africa-anansi-the-spider.html-->

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