anansasem (anansesem) Akan (Ghana) Spider stories, named after the Ashanti trickster hero Anansi; a class of folktales told by the Akan-speaking people of Ghana. These are stories told for entertainment and are distinguished from myths. The example that follows is a tale in which Anansi proved to the other animals that he was older than any other creature. The animals had gotten into an argument about which of them was the oldest. They went to Anansi and asked him to be the judge. In turn, each animal told why it was the oldest. The guinea fowl said that when he was born, there was a great grass fire. Since there was no one in the world but him, he had put out the fire. The fire had burned his legs, and they were still red. The parrot claimed that when he was born, there were no tools or weapons. He had made the first iron tool with his beak, which is why parrots’ beaks are bent. The elephant claimed that when he was created, the Supreme God gave him such a large nose that there was very little material left. This is why other animals have short noses. The rabbit said that day and night had not existed when he was born. The porcupine said that when he came into the world, it was still soft. When all the animals had finished, Anansi announced that he, in fact, was the oldest creature. When he was born, Earth itself did not exist. When Anansi’s father died, there was no ground in which to bury him, so Anansi had buried his father in his head. The animals had to agree that Anansi was indeed the oldest of them all.

Taken from African Mythology A to Z – Library Binding – May 1, 2010- Second Edition – Written by Patricia Ann Lynch (Author), Jeremy Roberts Dr (Editor) – Copyright © 2004, 2010 by Patricia Ann Lynch