Welcome back to Mythology Monday, friends! You know, I have a little bit of a soft spot for trickster-type characters, and few are trickier than that West African spider god, Anansi.
Here’s how he managed to snag all the stories in the world.
So, to start off, Anansi is the son of the sky-god, Nyame. Now, there were no stories in the world at this time because Nyame was bogarting them all for himself. This didn’t sit very well with Anansi, who goes up to him and says, “Yo, Dad, don’t keep all these awesome stories for yourself. Spread that good shit around.”
Nyame, at first, is like, “No,” but then tells his son that he’ll hand over the stories as long as Anansi manages to capture and bring him four incredible dangerous creatures: the python Onini, the leopard Osebo, the Moboro Hornets (which, honestly, sound way more unpleasant than the previous two), and an ornery invisible lady named Mmoatia.
In case you couldn’t tell, Nyame is fucking with Anansi as this is supposed to be impossible.
Anansi, though, is like, “OK,” and goes off to capture himself some stuff.
He decides to start with Onini, going to his lair and basically having an argument with himself. Onini, curious, decides to see what all the commotion’s about, and Anansi explains, “My wife thinks you’re longer than this stick, but I think she’s full of shit.” Onini offers to stretch himself out next to the stick to settle the matter, after which Anansi ties him to the stick. One down, three to go.
The next critter is Osebo. He goes out and digs a large pit, which the leopard promptly manages to get himself stuck in. Anansi, acting all innocent, offers to help Osebo out of the pit by weaving him a rope with his webbing. Of course, since it’s a web, Osebo manages to get so stuck in it that he can’t move anymore.
Onto the hornets. Anansi grabs and then drills a whole into a large gourd before dumping water on himself and then their nest. Understandably pissed off that their house is no ruined, they swarm out and Anansi tells them that the rainy season started early, but they can take shelter in this very convenient gourd he happens to have. And so they fly into the gourd and he promptly seals up the hole.
Now onto the most difficult task of all: capturing Mmoatia. Anansi knows that not only is Mmoatia ornery, she’s also very, very crafty. However, he also knows that she really, really likes yam paste. Like, every time she sees yam paste she has to shovel it into her mouth.
So he makes a fake baby out of tree gum, and puts a bowl of yam paste in its lap. Mmoatia saunters on by and sees the fake baby with the yam paste, and of course has to have it. She asks the baby if she can have some, and Anansi uses his webbing to make it nod. So of course Mmoatia eats all of it, and thanks the fake baby. The fake baby, of course, does not respond, and this pisses Mmoatia off so much that she smacks it.
Her hand gets stuck to the gum, so she hits it with her other hand. Which also gets stuck. Then she starts to kick it, and I think you get the idea here.
All four critters captured, Anansi goes back to Nyame, who’s like, “Fine, you win,” and gives him his box of stories, which Anansi then spreads to the rest of the world.
So the next time you see a spider, thank it for the latest Stephen King novel.
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