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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 www.mikelockett.com.  The story is also available in book form from Santa Publishing in Taiwan.  Look for the title, "Why Spiders Have Big Bottoms."



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