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Jamaican Stories – Anansi & Snake (Part One)

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Tiger was the undisputed king of the forest. Tiger Lilies were named after him. Tiger Moths were named after him. And the stories of the forest were called Tiger Stories.

Anansi was a nobody in the forest hierarchy. When the animals gathered together, they would ask idle questions like “Who is the strongest animal?” or “Who is the bravest?”

All together, they would chorus “Tiger!”. And just to poke fun, they would say, “Who is the weakest?” Like a church choir, they would all sing out “Anansi!”.

Anansi got sick and tired of it all.

One day he met Tiger face to face in the forest. Anansi bowed low to Tiger, but Tiger did not acknowledge Anansi in the least. He had no time to waste on such an insignificant speck.

“Tiger,” said Anansi, “you have it all. Can’t you just ease me up and let me have one thing named after me?”

Tiger wanted to ignore Anansi, but his curiosity got the better of him. “And just what is it you want to bear your name, Anansi?”

“The stories,” replied Anansi. “I want them to be called Anansi stories.”

Now Tiger loved those stories and did not intend to give them up to this crawling nobody. Still, even the undisputed king of the forest needed a laugh sometimes. So, he said to Anansi, “If you can do one small thing for me, I will let you call the stories Anansi stories or any other name you like.”

Anansi didn’t like the sound of this. “What one thing would that be, Tiger?” he asked cautiously.

“Nothing too hard… just capture Snake for me by the end of the week, and all the stories will be known as Anansi stories forever more.”

Good thing Anansi had eight legs to stand on, because at least four of them buckled same time! This Snake was not your flimsy garden variety snake. Snake of the jungle was big. Very big. And Anansi was small. Very small.

But Anansi could think big, so he said, “I’ll do it.”

At that, there was a huge burst of laughter from all the other animals who had been eavesdropping on the conversation. They went home, tears of amusement rolling down their faces.

Anansi went home, very worried. But thinking.

This was on Monday.

Next day…

Anansi went on the trail he knew Snake travelled on every day. He made a large noose out of a strong vine and placed some of Snake’s favorite berries inside it. He hid in the bushes, holding the other end of the vine.

Snake came slithering along the path. He spied the berries and his mouth watered. But he also spied the noose. He lay the weight of his body on the vine, then reached in and ate the berries quickly. Anansi tried and tried but he could not pull the vine to close the noose. Snake’s body was too heavy!

Next day…

Anansi went a little further down Snake’s favorite trail and dug a pit in the ground. He placed a luscious hand of ripe bananas in it, then smeared the sides of the pit with grease, so that Snake would slip in when he tried to get the bananas.

Snake came along the path. He spied the bananas and his mouth watered. But he also spied the grease. So, he wrapped his tail around a thick tree trunk, then reached into the hole with his head and ate the bananas. If he had lips, he would have licked them. He raised his head out of the pit, unwrapped his tail, and slithered away.


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