The Storyteller Online


< Back to Story Listings

Ghana - Why Spiders Have Big Rear Ends   Print Story 

Anansi the Spider - Or Why Spiders Have Big Rear Ends
As Adapted by Dr. Mike Lockett, The Normal Storyteller 

A long time ago, Anansi the Spider was walking through the forest, looking for food to feed his family.  As Anansi walked along, he heard voices far in the distance saying, "Oh, we splash the river to catch the fishes!  Oh, we splash our heads upon the water!  Oh... We splash the river..."

Try as he might, Anansi could not understand what the voices said and kept moving closer towards the voices.  Again, he heard something saying, "Oh, we splash the river to catch the fishes!  Oh, we splash our heads upon the water!  Oh... We splash the river..."

But, again, Anansi could not understand what the voices said.  He kept moving closer to the voices and Again, he heard, "Oh we splash the river to catch the fishes!  Oh, we splash our heads upon the water!  Oh... We splash the river..."

This time, he was close enough to the river to hear and understand the voices.  Anansi stood behind a baobab tree, looking out over the river.  He saw the River Spirits with their heads off and in their hands.  The spirits were splashing their heads up and down upon the water.  As they did this, they sang this song, "Oh, we splash the river to catch the fishes!  Oh, we splash our heads upon the water!  Oh... We splash the river..."

As they splashed and sang, fish jumped out of the water where the River Spirits could catch them and eat them later.  All Anansi could say was, "Wow!"

That's when the Spirits looked up and saw him, for every person, and animal and even the spirits all knew Anansi.  "Come join us," said the spirits.

"I'd love to," said Anansi, "But there's just one problem.  I don't know how to take my head off.  Oh, that's easy said the Spirits.  We can help you take your head off, Anansi,"  and with very little effort, the River Spirits helped Anansi take his head off and placed it into his hands. 

Anansi joined them on the river splashing his head up and down upon the water singing this song, "Oh we splash the river to catch the fishes!  Oh, we splash our heads upon the water!  Oh... We splash the river..."

As Anansi splashed, the fish began jumping out of the water, so he could catch them.  Because he was a spider at that moment, he had eight legs to catch the fish.  Over and over he sand the song, "Oh we splash the river to catch the fishes!  Oh, we splash our heads upon the water!  Oh... We splash the river..."

"Ha, Ha, This is fun!" said Anansi, as he threw more fish upon the shore.  Then he saw the size of his pile of fish.  He was greedy enough to want more - but was too lazy to carry them home.  So, Anansi said, "I think I have enough now."  Then he started wrapping his fish in a bundle of webbing to carry them home.

"Well, come again soon," said the River Spirits.

"Before I go," said Anansi, there's just one problem.

"What's that?" asked the River Spirits.

"I don't know how to put my head back on!" said Anansi. 

"Oh, that's easy," said the Spirits, "We can help you do that!"  Then - with very little effort, they put Anansi's head back on the little neck that sat on his shoulders.  "One thing though..." the Spirits said to Anansi.

"What's that? asked Anansi.

"Never sing our song again!"

"But, why?" asked Anansi.  "It's a good song!  I like it!"

"Because if you sing our song when we are not there, your head will fall off!" said the Spirits.

"Then, I won't do that," said Anansi, and off he went carrying the fish on his back.  But, as he walked towards home, Anansi heard the voices in the distance.  The voices were saying, "Oh, We splash the river to catch the fishes!  Oh, we splash our heads upon the water!"

Anansi could not help himself, "Oh, we splash the river...," Anansi said. And his head fell right off.

Try as he might, Anansi could NOT get his head back on.  He tried to go and get help from the river spirits, but they were gone when he got to the river.

So, Anansi balanced his head on his rear end and carried his fish and walked home. 

As Anansi reached home, his children cam out of the house and said, "Ha, Ha!  Look at father!  His head is on his rear end!"

"Be quiet, children," said Anansi, "And help me get my head on straight."  But, try as they might, they could not get his head off his rear end to put it on the front.  So, they did the next best thing.  They pulled out his eyeballs, "Pop! Pop!" and put them on the little stump of a neck in the front.  They unscrewed his nose, "errrk!" and put it on the front.  They pulled off his mouth and put it on the front.  They couldn't get the ears off, so they poked them in.  This is why spiders don't have ears.

When they were done, Anansi had a little bitty head and a GREAT BIG BEHIND.  This is why spiders have big read ends!

Background Information: Many people recognize the name Anansi and associate it with the continent of Africa.  Many folktales are told about this popular character.  For those who don't know him, Anansi is favorite hero, especially in the country of Ghana.    Anansi is sometimes perceived as a man.  Other times, he appears in the shape of a spider.  Whatever his shape, all Anansi stories describe Anansi as greedy and lazy - but also terribly clever.  The problem with Anansi is that his cleverness sometimes backfires and causes him problems. 

This story is available on audio CD "Tales from Around the World" and can be purchased by visiting Dr. Lockett's website at  The story is also available in book form from Santa Publishing in Taiwan.  Look for the title, "Why Spiders Have Big Bottoms."

Click on any story to read:
Appalachian Tales
 • Lazy Jack
 • Soap - Soap - Soap
 • The Gunny Wolf
 • The Journeycake Who Ran Away
 • I'm Gonna Tell - R. Sorrels, adapted by M. Lockett
 • Little Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly - performance
 • Little Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly - traditional
 • The Wedding of Jack and Jill
Call and Response Stories
 • Did You Feed My Cow?
 • Farm Vacation
 • The Button Factory
 • The Man Who Saw a Crocodile
 • The Turkey Hunt - Call and Response
Dinosaur Stories
 • Racing the Dinosaur
 • Androcles and the Lion
 • The Ant and the Pigeon
 • The Bat and the Weasel
 • The Boy Who Cried Wolf
 • The Cat, the Rooster and the Young Mouse
 • The Dove and the Ant
 • The Farmer and the Stork
 • The Frog in the Milk Pail
 • The Lion and the Buffalos
 • The North Wind and the Sun
 • The Ox and the Frog
 • The Panther and the Villagers
 • The Tortoise and the Hare
Folk Tales and Folklore
 • Africa - The Lion's Minister of State
 • Africa - The Sly Old Cat
 • America - Brother Goat Eats Rocks
 • America - Full of Bologna
 • America - How Man Became Master of Fire
 • America - The Cheese in the Well
 • Argentina - Fox's Warm Bargain
 • Asia - The Tiger in the Well
 • Balkans - Why Man Lives Eighty Years
 • Bohemia - Long, Broad and Sharpsight
 • Brazil, How Brazilian Beetles Got Their Coats
 • Burma - A Little Drop of Honey
 • Caribbean - Anansi and the Python
 • China - Ow and Ouch
 • China - The Chinese Nightingale
 • China - The Magic Pillow
 • China - The Monkey's Drum
 • China - The Terrible Nung Guama
 • China - The Tiger's Teacher
 • Congo - Monkey and Rabbit Together
 • Denmark - The Wonderful Pot
 • England - The Baker's Daughter
 • England - The Cat and the Mouse
 • England - The Cat's Tale
 • England - The Little Gingerbread Boy
 • England - The Little Red Hen
 • England - The Pot that Would Not Walk
 • England - The Three Bears
 • England - The Three Little Pigs
 • England - The Three Sillies
 • Finland - The Mouse Princess
 • Finland - Why Fish Cannot Talk
 • Flanders - How the Finch Got Its Colors
 • France - Half a Blanket
 • Germany - The Frog Prince
 • Germany - The Porridge Pot
 • Germany - Why Beans Have a Split Side
 • Ghana - The Story of the Tongue
 • Ghana - Why Spiders Have Big Rear Ends
 • India - The Blind Men and the Elephant
 • India - The Elephants and the King of Mice
 • India - The Hare That Ran Away
 • India - The Hare that Ran Away Teller's Notes
 • India - The Jackal and the Alligator
 • India - The Lion Makers
 • India - The Magic of Friendship
 • India - The Monkey and the Crocodile
 • India - The Ox Who Won a Bet
 • India - The Quarreling Quails
 • India - The Tiger, the Brahman and the Jackal
 • India - The Turtle Who Could Not Stop Talking
 • India -The King and the Foolish Monkey
 • Indonesia - Why There Are No Tigers in Borneo
 • Iran - The Singing Pumpkin
 • Iraq - The Gift of Stories - The Caliph of Bagdad
 • Ivory Coast - Why Spiders Have Eight Skinny Legs
 • Jamaica - Why Dogs Watch People Eat
 • Japan - The Hare of Inaba
 • Japan - The Two Frogs
 • Korea - The Magic Moneybag
 • Korea - The Pumpkin Seeds
 • Laos - The King Who Hated Old People
 • Latvia - The Hungry Wolf
 • Mexico - How Lizard Beat Big Deer
 • Nigeria - How Rabbit Got Wisdom
 • Nigeria - Why Bats Fly at Night
 • Norway - How Bear Lost His Tail
 • Norway - The Boy and the North Wind
 • Norway - The Gertrude Bird
 • Norway - The Goats in the Garden
 • Philippines - Saving the Moon
 • Philippines - The Monkey and the Dragonflies
 • Philippines - Why Male Mosquitoes Do Not Bite
 • Phillipines - The Man with the Cocoanuts
 • Phillppines - The Seven Happy Villagers
 • Phillppines - Why Chickens Scratch the Ground
 • Russia - The Mitten
 • Russia - The Poor Man's Ruble
 • Russia - Two Goats on the Bridge -
 • Scotland - Aiken-Drum
 • Scotland - The Haunted Tailor
 • Senegal - How Moon & Sun Came to Dwell in the Sky
 • Siberia - How the Bee Got His Bumble
 • Siberia - The Girl in the Moon
 • South Africa - The Man and the Snake
 • Spain - Little Half-Chick (Medio Pollito)
 • Sri Lanka - Lizard's Duel with Leopard
 • Surinam - The King of the Birds
 • Sweden - Anders' New Cap
 • Sweden - The Boy and the Water-Sprite
 • Sweden - The Elves & the Shoemaker
 • Syria - The King Who Changed His Ways
 • Taiwan - Flies Who Paid a Debt of Gratitude
 • Taiwan - The Frog in the Well
 • Taiwan - Trapping Rabbits in Taiwan
 • Thailand - Why Elephant Has a Long Nose
 • The Dragon Princess
 • Tibet - The Candy Man
 • Tibet - The Tiger and the Frog
 • Tibet - Two Rabbits and a Bear
 • Turkey - The Mouse and the Elephant
 • Turkey - The Three Hares
 • United States - The Cricket's Supper
 • Vietman - How the Tiger Got Its Stripes
 • Vietnam - Raven and the Star Fruit Tree
 • Wales - The Loyal Dog
 • West Africa - How Mankind Got Wisdom
 • West Africa - Why Spiders Hide in Corners
 • Why Dogs Chase Cats
Historical Stories
 • A Leader Lends a Hand
 • Civil War - The Story of Taps
 • Civil War Story - The Fortunate Mistake
 • How Normal Became Normal
 • Nancy Mason and the Baby Fold
 • Private Joe Fifer
 • The Boy and the Book
 • The Gift of Stories - The Caliph of Bagdad
 • Ulysses S. Grant
Holiday Stories
 • A Live Christmas
 • France- The Wooden Shoe Christmas
 • I Heard the Bells of Christmas Day
 • The Christmas Rose
 • The Christmas Truce of 1914
 • The Legend of Babushka
 • The Legend of the Poinsettia
 • The Legend of the Robin
 • The Story of Francis of Assisi
 • The Story of Silent Night
 • The Three Purses
Humor and Short Stories/Jokes
 • Full of Bologna
 • Gettin' the Mule's Attention
 • Horse Sense
 • Live Your Life Wisely
 • Pets at the Library
 • The Apple Star
 • The Calling of the Bells
 • The Pig's Brother
 • Why Roses Come in Pink
Math Stories (great for math teachers)
 • Creative Division - Dividing the Geese (Russia)
 • Dividing the Oxen
 • Problem Solving Story - The New Shoes - (China)
Motivational Stories
 • The Starfish
Native American Tales
 • Hopi - Grandmother Spider
 • Hopi - Why Clouds Are in the Sky
 • Native American - How Chipmunk Got its Stripes
 • Nez Perce - Why Bear Sleeps All Winter
 • Pueblo - The Musical Waters
 • The Coyote and the Turtle
Religious Stories and Bible Stories
 • Being a Good Neighbor
 • David and Goliath
 • Feathers in the Wind
 • God is Good
 • Joshua and the Battle of Jericho
 • Noah and the Great flood
 • Sword of Gideon
 • The Call of Samuel
 • The Love of Two Brothers
 • The Most Precious Thing
 • The Story of Esther
 • The Story of Rhoda
 • The Story of Ruth
 • Timothy's Head Start to Salvation
Scary Stories (but not too scary)
 • A Halloween Scare
 • Dark Dark Night
 • Jack and the Goblins
 • Slimy Green Fingers
 • The Haunted Tailor
 • The Squeaky Door
Teacher Materials - Essays on Holiday Topics
 • Christmas Cards Remembered
 • Easter Customs
 • Thoughts on Candy Canes
    Site created by Creative Sites Media © 2005-2011 Heritage Schoolhouse Press.