The story of Kweku Ananse and his songs

One day it happened that as Kweku Ananse was going for a stroll in his garden, he heard the mellifluous voice of somebody who seemed to be entertaining other people with songs. It was very early in the morning, at dawn, and it seemed unusual at such an unconscionable hour to hear somebody singing so beautifully. He was carried away by the beauty of the songs only to find that it was the Monkey that was singing them.

Kweku Ananse praised the Monkey for his songs and asked the Monkey to visit him so that he might learn the songs. The Monkey at first hesitated but later agreed to visit Kweku. When the Monkey arrived, Kweku started learning Monkey’s songs one after the other. But his efforts were futile because his voice was husky and, besides, he had no ability at all when it came to singing. Therefore, Kweku made a poor job of the exercise and finally abandoned the effort. However, he was determined not to let the Monkey go away until he had taken advantage of him to make a lot of money.

Kweku Ananse consequently approached the Chief of the town to inform him that he and the Monkey would like to sing in order to entertain the people in the village. In fact, both the Monkey and Kweku sang one song together to the delight of the Chief. What Kweku did was that although he did not know how to sing any of the songs in the Monkey’s large repertoire, he stood very close to the Monkey and kept opening and shutting his mouth to correspond with the Monkey’s as if he was also actually singing, except that no sound came out of his throat.

Kweku was so happy at his success that even before the Chief called an assembly of the people, he was going from house to house with the Monkey singing for money. Each day they collected a fantastic amount of money with the Monkey doing all the singing while Kweku continued mimicking the Monkey’s voice and gestures quite perfectly. But the strange thing was that Kweku, in his greed, never gave the Monkey even a pesewa of the money he collected. Then there was this big assembly of all the people of the village. Both the Monkey and Kweku Ananse sang like one man and very beautifully too. Kweku collected all the money without the slightest remuneration for the Monkey on whose shoulders lay the success or the failure of the Musical Show.

The Monkey was therefore so aggrieved that he decided to teach his friend a lesson since he had so avariciously enriched himself at his expense. The next show was coming up at the next weekend before a gathering of all the people in the district. Preparations were made, and elaborately too; a very spacious place was cleared and seating arrangements were satisfactorily made. On that day, the young and the old attended the function in their gorgeous clothes, and the crowd was as thick as smoke from a heated haystack.

All was set for the singing session. Most people had gone to the function to hear Kweku sing because he had made big headlines as a very accomplished singer. Soon the singing began and the first song was so beautiful that it won a prolonged applause from the audience. Then suddenly the Monkey stopped singing, leaving Kweku Ananse alone opening and shutting his mouth without any sound. People began to wonder what part Kweku was playing in the singing session.

When Kweku turned to his friend, he saw him standing quietly and whispered into his ears to sing on. The Monkey started singing and, as Kweku began his antics again, the Monkey suddenly stopped, leaving Kweku stranded. When the people started laughing, Kweku quickly saw what had happened and he did everything to persuade his friend not to disgrace him, but the Monkey would not sing. Then, all of a sudden, the Monkey announced to the audience that they had reached part of the programme where they would sing individually. So he would sing first and Kweku would also sing. The Monkey started and sang with such grace and elegance that the crowd surged forwards and backwards to obtain a full view of his face. He received a tremendous ovation and as the cheers died down, there was a general call for his friend Kweku Ananse to sing. Kweku stood motionless before the audience and as the crowd yelled for action he began perspiring copiously.

The truth was that Kweku had no voice and could not sing. At long last, he had been found out and he quickly contemplated seeking relief in flight. But before he could take flight the crowd surrounded him and prevented him from escaping.

Then the Monkey explained what Kweku had done to him. He made it known to the people that although it was he alone who sang the songs, Kweku collected all the money for himself and never gave him any remuneration for what he did. He did not even do enough to make him happy and comfortable.

Upon hearing these accusations against Kweku, the Chief ordered the money collected at that function to be seized from Kweku and given to the Monkey. They also branded Kweku a swindler who had cheated the Monkey out of his money. They took Kweku to his house and collected all the money he was supposed to have earned from his concerts and gave two-thirds of it to the Monkey and the remaining one-third was paid into the District Treasury as money for the State. Kweku was left in abject poverty and disgrace. From that time on, the friendship between the Monkey and Ananse withered away.

Ananse Stories Retold: Some Common Traditional Tales (Paperback)
Author: Luke Gyesi- Appiah
Illustrator: Vesta Wuddah- Marktey
Publisher: Heinemann International Literature & Textbooks

The story of Kweku Ananse and the trap

Once upon a time, famine broke out in a certain village so the Chief and people of the village met to think of what best to do in the crisis. Many suggestions were made but it was finally decided that it was finally decided that all the people of the village should begin a community farm.

Everybody accepted the idea and the next day all the men and their wives as well as the children and the old assembled for the work. They weeded a vast area and worked on it three times a week until at long last they had plenty of food. But while they were clearing the bush, one person was conspicuously absent and was Kweku Ananse. The Chief sent for him but Kweku always made excuses. At long last he said that he was not interested in making a farm and that he would manage to find food to eat. Kweku’s attitude annoyed everybody in the village but there was nothing that anybody could do. They just left Kweku to his own devices.

Soon the plantains, the cocoyam and the yam as well as the cassava became plentiful and there was abundant food for everybody. There was abundant food for everybody. There was great joy among the people as every day the Chief sent workers who brought him enough food for all to eat. The young men were divided into groups and these groups went to the farm each in turn. The people decided that Kweku Ananse who did not join in the communal labour should not be given any of the foodstuffs brought home everyday. Not many days later, it was discovered by some of the groups that somebody was eating their food with them. For every morning, when they went to the farm, there was evidence that somebody had visited the farm in the night. This matter was reported to the Chief who felt greatly disturbed by this unpatriotic action of the unknown person.

After a meeting of the Chief and elders, it was decided that a trap be set in the farm. So they installed a rubber man somewhere on the farm. In the night, Old Kweku Ananse made his way to the farm walking on tiptoes and looking left and right. When he reached the farm, he thought that the rubber man was a real human being. So Kweku Ananse asked who that person was, but there was no response. He became more and more irritated as the ‘man’ refused to answer his questions. Therefore he decided to slap the ‘man’. After the slap Kweku could not pull his hand away. He gave the ‘man’ another slap and as he could not pull back the other hand, he became painfully aware that he had fallen into a trap.

The next morning, there stood Kweku Ananse, in disgrace and shame. He was immediately arrested and sent to the Chief’s palace. All the inhabitants gathered there together with the Chief and his Counselors. Kweku had nothing to say but to make a clean breast of his nocturnal activities. After that, he went down on his knees pleading for mercy. The Chief and people rebuked Kweku for such audacious nonchalance and, for his punishment, the Chief ordered him to be flogged. Kweku was whipped with utmost rigidity and mercilessness until he almost fainted with exhaustion.

When those who were inflicting the punishment rested their hands a little, Kweku quickly took advantage of their laxity and struggled out of their grip. Before they could pounce on him, he had jumped up high into the ceiling. That is why Kweku Ananse, up to now, has been living in the ceiling of buildings.

Ananse Stories Retold: Some Common Traditional Tales (Paperback)
Author: Luke Gyesi- Appiah
Illustrator: Vesta Wuddah- Marktey
Publisher: Heinemann International Literature & Textbooks

How the hoe came into the world.

There was once only one hoe in the world. It belonged to the Porcupine. The Porcupine went to live in the forest and made a very big farm from which he obtained all types of foodstuffs. It was not long before famine broke out and people started looking for a place where they could get food. They heard that the Porcupine had plenty of food and they went to him to buy some of his food.

One day Kweku Ananse told his wife that he was going to wander about to see if he could get any food. He heard of the Porcupine during his wanderings and made for his house. Having been directed to the Porcupine’s farm by one of the Porcupine’s children, Kweku arrived to find the Porcupine busy at work with his hoe. The hoe alone did the weeding as the Porcupine sang a song. Ananse was surprised at what was happening and decided to learn the song by whose magic powers the hoe was able to weed so thoroughly and at such fantastic speed.

Before the Porcupine became aware of Ananse’s presence, Ananse had learned the magic song. Ananse then bought enough food from the Porcupine and praised him for the beautiful song he was singing. Ananse wanted to make sure of the words of the song said the Porcupine should teach him so that he might let his children sing it for him at dusk. The Porcupine was pleased to teach him but, while Ananse was leaving, he snatched the Porcupine’s hoe unnoticed and took it to his house.

Kweku Ananse brought great joy to his house when he told his family about the magic find – the hoe. He taught his children the song and later sent them to the farm to let the hoe weed. As soon as the children started singing the song, the hoe started weeding and it cleared the whole land which Ananse had marked for the farm. Kweku then wanted the hoe to stop weeding. But he had not learned the words which could let the hoe stop. Kweku did everything that he thought he ought to do or say, but the hoe would not stop weeding because he had not uttered the appropriate words. The hoe went on weeding until it reached a town called Suram and turned around and went on as far as Tobasa.

When it reached a village where a blacksmith was working, the man seized it, having become fascinated by the wonderful work that the hoe was doing. He sent it into hi smithy and produced thousands of its kind which flourished in the markets around the whole world. That is why we have hoes everywhere.

Ananse Stories Retold: Some Common Traditional Tales (Paperback)
Author: Luke Gyesi- Appiah
Illustrator: Vesta Wuddah- Marktey
Publisher: Heinemann International Literature & Textbooks

The story of Ananse and the Vulture

One day Kweku Ananse who was wiser than the Rabbit used some ingenious strategy to take the Rabbit’s farm from him. Kweku became very happy on taking possession of the farm and decided to sell some of the produce. He put the huge amount of money he had got from the sale of the maize into a basket with some maize to eat and started home with the basket on his head.

While going home, Kweku was thinking of what to do with the money. He would start building a house and also he would be able to buy clothes for his wife and children. All of the sudden, he noticed that rain clouds were gathering. There were no towns or villages nearby where he could go to take shelter; also, there was no house or hut on the way.

Kweku was still thinking of how he was going to spend his money and also of the imminent rain when it started raining. At first he was determined to walk through the rain but he soon realised that it was impossible to do so because the rain was falling in torrents. He therefore put his basket containing the maize and the money by the road and left to stand under a tree where he could still keep surveillance over his basket.

After some time, Kweku could not bear the intensity of such torrential rain and went down to hide in a big hole under the tree. It was not possible to see his basket from there but he thought that, while it was raining so heavily, nobody would come along and take it away.

Not long after, the Vulture came along through the heavy rain and found the basket. Wishing to keep the contents of the basket dry, the Vulture bent over the basket and covered it with his wings until the rain stopped. Kweku then came out of his hiding place to take his basket away but to his amazement, there was the Vulture over the basket.

Kweku Ananse thanked the Vulture for keeping watch over his basket for him and for keeping the maize dry from the rain. But Kweku had the shock of his life when the Vulture claimed ownership of the basket and the things in it, saying that it was inconceivable that a reasonable human being would leave his basket full of maize and money by the road and disappear.

Ananse, after a violent argument and finding the Vulture obdurate in his stand, reported the case to the Chief and the elders of the town who immediately sent for the Vulture. Kweku told his side of the case and the Vulture also told his. The Vulture claimed that he was coming from his own farm with a basket half full of maize and some very important items. Because it was raining so heavily and desiring to keep the things in the basket dry, since they were so important to him, he put down the basket and covered it with his wings. After the rain, before he could continue his journey, Ananse came from nowhere to claim ownership of the basket, which was to him very strange behaviour.

The Vulture made a passionate appeal to the Chief and his elders to consider whether anybody had ever done a thing of the sort as Kweku was claiming he did. The Chief then selected some people among the arbitrators to go out and give the matter further thought and after that to decide who had won the case. The jurors, as they were called returned a verdict of guilty for Ananse who they contended was not very likely to put a basket containing money and maize by the roadside and leave the scene completely.

Ananse nearly broke down and found the decision a hard pill to swallow. It was when he turned round to go away that the Rabbit who was present at the arbitration told him that anyone who cheats another of his belongings loses them as quickly as he got them. The Rabbit continued to taunt Ananse with contemptuous remarks until he moved away in disgust.

Ananse Stories Retold: Some Common Traditional Tales (Paperback)
Author: Luke Gyesi- Appiah
Illustrator: Vesta Wuddah- Marktey
Publisher: Heinemann International Literature & Textbooks

The story of Ananse and the famine.

Once upon a time, there was a great famine in a town in which lived Ananse, his wife and children. Famished with hunger, Ananse decided to go to a distant land where he could get some food for the family. He took along a bit of kenkey and some water. After a whole day’s journey, having become very hungry and tired, Ananse sat under a tree to eat some food.

Suddenly an old woman appeared and asked Ananse to share his food with her. Although the food was so little, Ananse gave half of it to the old woman. After they had eaten and drunk some water, the old woman gave Ananse a flat, white plate which was capable of producing abundant food for anybody who asked it the right question. The question was: ‘What is your name, white plate?’ As soon as Ananse asked the plate this question, several other plates appeared from nowhere and were each full of different types of food. He and the old woman ate as much of the food as possible; it was a sumptuous feast and, after they had eaten their fill and needed no more of the food, Ananse was asked to say to the plate, ‘It is enough’, and the rest of the food and plates vanished, leaving the white plate. The old woman then asked Ananse to take the plate home.

On the way back, Ananse, because it was getting dark, spent the night at an inn by the wayside. The innkeeper was surprised that although Ananse appeared to be tired and hungry, he would not eat anything. Later, however, he discovered what Ananse did with the white plate. So in the night he stole Ananse’s white plate and put a different plate in its place. When Ananse reached home, he did not know what had happened to his white plate, so he quickly called his wife and children and told them about the magic plate. They were all excited and looked forward anxiously to seeing plenty of food produced by the white plate. But when Ananse asked the plate the appropriate question, no other plates came and no food appeared. Ananse looked at everybody’s face with the greatest astonishment.

After such a great disappointment, Ananse decided to go back to the old woman. He walked back to the place where he first met her and as he sat down to rest, the old woman came again. It was astonishing to Ananse that the woman did not ask any question about the missing plate but merely asked for Ananse’s food. Again they ate Ananse’s little kenkey and drank some water. Then the old woman gave him a box, in fact a very tiny box, which produced gold dust. He was just to tap the top of the box three times and say, ‘Open’ and the box would open with plenty of gold dust in it to be collected. The process could be repeated a many times as one wanted.

Ananse again began his journey back and again he stopped at the inn to stay the night there. In the night, the innkeeper stole Ananse’s box and replaced it with a similar box, so Ananse could not detect the theft until he reached home. There was another painful disappointment and Ananse in desperation, nearly killed himself; it was his wife who consoled him with some soothing words, saying that God’s time was the best.

Ananse was so astounded that he decided to go to the old woman for the last time and tell her his story. As soon as he arrived, the old woman appeared and immediately gave him a beautiful walking stick and asked him to spend the night at the inn again, although Ananse had not told her his story. Also this time the woman did not eat with him. In fact Ananse did not know what the stick was capable of producing but he took it to the inn.

During the night the innkeeper, as usual, stole the stick. As he held the stick he asked it several questions one of which happened to be the appropriate question for the stick to begin action. The innkeeper asked: ‘What is your name?’ The stick answered, ‘I punish!’ At once it started beating the innkeeper. He was so badly beaten that he swore never to steal again. But the stick pursued him and the prolonged noise of the crying and agonizing shouts brought out of their beds those who were sleeping. Ananse saw what was happening and was so delighted to have found the culprit of the previous thefts. Finally, the innkeeper, unable to bear any more punishment, brought out the white plate and the box which he had previously stolen and the stick stopped beating him.

Ananse became so happy that he took his white plate and the box leaving the stick with the innkeeper. On the way home he tried the plate and the box and found that they were the original ones given by the old woman. So, on arrival, he called another meeting of the family. Nobody was interested in such a meeting because of their previous experience but Ananse persuaded them to come. First he asked the white plate to produce enough food for his wife and children. It was amazing what they saw: plenty of food which they ate and ate after that gold dust from the box. Ananse and his family became rich overnight and the joy and happiness of the family knew no bounds.

Ananse Stories Retold: Some Common Traditional Tales (Paperback)
Author: Luke Gyesi- Appiah
Illustrator: Vesta Wuddah- Marktey
Publisher: Heinemann International Literature & Textbooks

The story of how Ananse’s second daughter got married.

When Ananse’s second daughter reached marriage-able age, he thought of a way of choosing the best young man of the village for the girl. This he did by asking all the men who were asking for the girl’s hand in marriage to engage in a wrestling bout and he picked the conqueror as the husband. There were six handsome young men and a day was appointed for the wrestling match. The villagers came around in large numbers and one of the suitors called Owuo came out victorious, having beaten all the others in a very keenly contested match.

But there was another condition which Owuo had to fulfill in order to fulfill in order to win the hand of Ananse’s daughter. He was to join other brave young men of the village in a hunting expedition in which a lion was to be killed. Furthermore, if the lion was killed by the bullets from the man’s gun, then such a man, apart from winning the maiden, was held in high honour by the society. Owuo, therefore, joined in the expedition and showed great courage by stepping out boldly to shoot and kill a lion. For his prize, he won the hand of Ananse’s daughter and was given special honour as a veteran hunter.

Soon a boy was born to Owuo and his wife. When the boy was twelve, he heard of the father’s brave exploits and was determined to win a name and public acclaim for himself just as his father had done. Later on, he joined the Chief’s army and became a very strong and skillful soldier. The boy’s quest for greatness and high esteem continued until he was made to command his people’s army and he overran all their neighbours and subjected them to the payment of tribute to Ananse’s village.

It was then that he became satisfied that, like his father, he would also be held in great esteem by the citizens of the land. He did his father and his grandfather Ananse proud for belonging to the most illustrious family of their village.

Ananse Stories Retold: Some Common Traditional Tales (Paperback)
Author: Luke Gyesi- Appiah
Illustrator: Vesta Wuddah- Marktey
Publisher: Heinemann International Literature & Textbooks

The story of Ananse and the Grasshopper.

Ananse and the Grasshopper were, long ago, staying in the same village as very intimate friends. When the father of the Grasshopper was dying at the advanced age of eighty-five, he prophesied that there would be famine in the land for two years. So the Grasshopper and Ananse decided to make a big farm which would save them from the impending starvation.

Accordingly, both Ananse and the Grasshopper, having consulted on the issue of a common farm, were determined to leave no stone unturned in achieving their purpose. Every morning they made their way across country full of boulders thorn bushes to the place where they were making their farms. They worked very hard and made a very large farm full of all kinds of food crops.

Soon the harvest came and with it great famine throughout the whole land. Except for Ananse and the Grasshopper, people from all the villages in the district had no food to eat. They travelled long distances looking for where they could get food to buy. At long last, it became known that it was Ananse and the Grasshopper alone who had food, so people came to them from far and near to buy maize and other food, so people came to them from far and near to buy maize and other foodstuffs. Ananse and his friend kept their money together and in no time they had become very rich. Suddenly an idea occurred to Ananse one day as he and The Grasshopper were counting the total money obtained from the day’s sales of foodstuffs. It would be a very good idea if all the money they had was for him alone. So he decided to get rid of his dear friend the Grasshopper.

At the far end of their farm, there was a very steep precipice which went into a deep valley full of huge and tall trees and of wild animals. It was a place which nobody in the surrounding villages had ever dared to go into except veteran hunters of wild animals. An evil thought came to Ananse that he should find a way of pushing the Grasshopper down the precipitous slope into the valley. There would be no way by which he could return and, besides, he stood in danger of being devoured by wild animals. Even if he did not die from the fall, he would certainly perish at the foot of the precipice.

A few days later, Ananse cunningly suggested that instead of waiting to come home in the evening from the farm before they drank their wine, they should take the wine to the farm so that after working for sometime they might relax with it. The Grasshopper unsuspectingly consented to this idea which he thought was brilliant and so they took to the farm enough wine that could make both of them intoxicated. When the time came for them to relax, they began to drink. But Ananse, knowing that he was up to something mischievous, pretended he was drinking deeply while, in fact, he was sipping the wine taking great care not to drink in excess. But his friend the Grasshopper was completely soaked after quaffing heavily. Soon he lost control of himself, having been completely overwhelmed by the effects of the wine. The time had come for Ananse to execute his evil plan. He just pretended to help the Grasshopper to a place where he could rest comfortably and eventually managed to push him over, down into the deep and steep valley; it was a dastardly deed ruthlessly perpetrated by Ananse in order to become the richest person in the land.

But the gods know how best to punish those who commit atrocities and seek to run away unscathed. By the time Ananse arrived home, all the money that he and the Grasshopper had saved in Ananse’s room had been stolen after some thieves had broken into the house. In anguish, Ananse did not know where he put the money which he had brought from the farm that day; that too was lost and Ananse decided that the only thing left for him to do was to commit suicide. He therefore killed himself with a sharp knife which he pierced through his heart and died instantly, leaving the foodstuffs on the farm as booty for the people in the village.

Ananse Stories Retold: Some Common Traditional Tales (Paperback)
Author: Luke Gyesi- Appiah
Illustrator: Vesta Wuddah- Marktey
Publisher: Heinemann International Literature & Textbooks

The marriage of Ananse’s daughter to the snake.

Ananse had four daughters. When it was time for the oldest of them to get married, she declined to marry any of the young men of her village, passing derogatory remarks about them. These insults displeased the young men of the village, most of whom were wealthy enough to make the girl happy and comfortable in their homes. But the girl was proud and had no respect for them.

In the next village, there was a magician who heard Ananse’s daughter, so he decided to punish her by making use of his magic art. Since the magician came from another village, this time the maiden did not hesitate to accept his proposal. Ananse was delighted that at long last his daughter was going to be married. He summoned all his friends and relations who put on their best clothes and formed a bridal procession from Ananse’s house to the other village. Other people who were gorgeously dressed joined the procession and all the people danced excitedly and merrily to the tune of a brass band.

No sooner had all the pomp and pageantry of the marriage celebration died down than the husband and the wife dismissed the drummers and the musicians and entered their hut for the night. The husband entered the chamber to undress and soon the unsuspecting lady was to see a terrible spectacle that sent her tumbling over in great panic. A coarse, rippling figure began to appear while the girl was crouched timorously against the mud wall. As the mighty snake coiled itself up at the door she uttered a disgusted and fearful scream and, in a fraction of a second, she found herself rolling over and shouting for help.

The husband had turned out to be a snake. She managed to pull herself together and hastily made for the road that led to her father’s village, trudging along the sandy paths in a great horror, shock and disappointment. Soon she reached home, perspiring profusely, and sat down dejectedly. She began to relate a horrible and shocking story which cast a spell of gloom over the whole family, while the young men of the town laughed uproariously at her for jilting them. Some openly jeered at her and told her that whatever had happened served her right. On that day the maiden swore never to give in again to any suitor that came from outside her father’s village for, after all, the devil you know is better than the angel you do not know.

Ananse Stories Retold: Some Common Traditional Tales (Paperback)
Author: Luke Gyesi- Appiah
Illustrator: Vesta Wuddah- Marktey
Publisher: Heinemann International Literature & Textbooks