Anansi was a spider, Anansi was a man

Anansi is the spirit of rebellion; he is able to overturn the social order  

Growing up on the west side on Vancouver, BC provided very little Jamaican culture. Aside from The Patty Shop on McDonald Street my encounters with Jamaican culture were limited to my Mom. One of those encounters came in the form of bedtime stories; stories of Anansi. In honor of the Caribbean festival this coming weekend here is a little background on Anansi.

Dinner with Anancy

 
Anansi: A Short history

Ananis is a character, originating from West African folk-lore, who is both a spider and a man.  In West African folk-lore Anansi is the son of they sky god Nyame, and often acts on his behalf. 

As a trickster character, Anansi traveled the Atlantic with the West African slaves and is now found in the folk tales of the West Indies, parts of South America, and the United States.  

Jamaicans.com describes Anansi as “quick-witted and intelligent surviving the odds and tricking those around him. He personifies the quality of survival so admired by Jamaicans.” The article goes on to show how during and after slavery, Jamaicans of colour identified themselves with Ananis, and how many of the creatures Anansi out-smarts are symbolic of the white oppressors. 

In the United States Br’er Rabbit stories often have similar story lines, Br’er Rabbit is believed to have originated in the Bantu tribes of South Africa. 

  

Sources

Anansi’s american cousin 

Br’er Rabbit  

Anansi Stories on-line 

A song to leave you with 

Anansi is a spider
Anansi is a man
Anansi is a clever one
He always have a plan
Yeah, he always have a plan 

                                         – Raffi 

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