There are many stories about perseverance - both folktales and stories about real folks. Here is a story about Anansi. He is a trickster spider/man from the Ashanti people in West Africa. There are hundreds of stories about Anansi. This story is about how Anansi set himself a goal and kept trying until he attained it - using his smarts and asking others. These stories are fun to read and to tell. They lend themselves to audience participation with lots of repetition.
Anansi Brings the Stories to the People
Long ago, long...long ago. So long ago...there were no stories. Can you imagine a world without stories? Why without stories there would be no TV show, no movies, no books, no bedtime stories! No stories.
It was known that all Nyame, the Sky god, kept all the stories in a basket up in the heavens. It was said that anyone who could do four impossible tasks for Nyame would get the stories. Many tried and many failed. The tasks were too hard.
One day Anansi went to his wife, Aso, and said, "I am going to visit Nyame and bring back the stories. Imagine - all the stories for me!"
Aso smiled and said, "Anansi, I know you, and you will keep working until you get those stories. You must use your wit; you must use your strength: but most of all you must persevere!
He and Aso built a good strong web ladder that reached to the heavens. Then Anansi prepared for his long trip. When the day came, Anansi got on the web and climbed and climbed...and climbed. He looked down and saw the earth getting smaller and smaller. He was afraid, but then he remembered those stories and he kept going...all the way to where the clouds cushioned the sky.
Anansi looked over and saw Nyame. He looked magnificent in his yellow brocade robes and his beaded Kufi Kofi hat. He carried a scepter made of pure gold, and at his side was a large basket. Nyame looked down and saw Anansi standing there shaking on his eight legs.
"Anansi! What are you doing here?"
"Oh, Nyame, most magnificent one, ruler of the sky, I have come, because I wish to have the stories you keep in the basket."
With that, Nyame burst into laughter, "You, Kwake Anansi, wish to have the stories! That is rich, Anansi. Many bigger, braver, smarter ones than you have tried, and they all failed miserably. What makes you think a puny little spider like yourself can do what others could not?"
Anansi was not ready to give up because someone - even if it was Sky god, thought he could not do it. So, he said. "Most honorable Nyame, it is known on earth that you are fair and just. You did not say that one had to be big and strong to try. Sometimes, the smallest can do what others cannot."
"Well, Anansi, that was a good answer. So, I will let you try. As you know, there are four impossible tasks - gifts really that you must bring to me. Gift number one: You must bring me Onini, the snake with the l-l-l-long tail. Gift number two: You must bring me the tooth from Osebo, the leopard with long sharp teeth. Gift number three: You must bring me Momboro, the hornets that SSSSTING like fire. And fourth, and most importantly, you must bring me Mmoaitia, the invisible fairy." Nyame laughed..."Now, do you still want the stories?"
"Oh, yes, Nyame. I will bring you the gifts, and then you can give me the stories." As he turned to walk away, he could hear Nyame laughing. It just made him even more determined to get those stories!
Anansi climbed down the web and began to think of how he would trick Onini - the snake with the llllong tail. He walked back and forth, back and forth...aha! He knew what he had to do. He went for a walk underneath the tree where Onini slept. When he got there, he started to talk to himself like you do when you are mad at someone... saying things like, "Oh, no he isn't" Oh, yes he is." "That is silly." "Silly, ha!"
Just then, Onini woke up and came down from the tree. "Anansssi, who are you talking to?"
"Oh, Onini, I am sorry I disturbed you. You see, my wife Aso and I had a terrible disagreement this morning. Can you believe it. She said that you were longer than this log that is on the jungle floor. I said, ha, you are so wrong. Then she called me silly!"
"Thisssss log Ananssssi. You think I am shorter than thisssss log?"
"Well, yes I do...much shorter!"
"Then we shall ssssee." So, Onini stretched himself the full length of the tree.
Anansi looked at the snake and said, "Onini, I want to be fair about this. You are full of kinks and curves. I will need to take this creeping vine and tie you to the log to make sure."
"Do what you must," hissed Onini.
So, Anansi took a creeping vine and he tied, he tied, he tied Onini to the log. Sure enough, Onini WAS longer than the log. "SSSSee, Anansi. I am longer. Who is the fool now."
"Well," said Anansi, "we shall see who is the fool." And Anansi took his web and zzzzssswwx covered Onini with his web. "Onini, I think it is time for you to visit Nyame." He pushed and pulled until he got that snake all the way to the top of the web. He called out, "Nyame, Nyame, look what I brought for you!"
Nyame came over and said, "Anansi, this is very good. You brought me my first gift. But now you must go back and bring me the tooth from Osebo, the leopard with...the long sharp teeth."
So, down went Anansi - boogity-boogity-boogity. He sat on a rock and thought and thought. Aha! He knew what he had to do. He watched Osebo day and night and saw that everyday at the same time he went for a run. He didn't look up or down or the right or to the left...just running, running, running. So, Anansi got a shovel and dug a deep hole in the path. At the bottom he placed a huge stone. Then, he covered the hole with branches and twigs. If you weren't looking, you would not be able to see it. Then, he hid behind a tree.
Here came Osebo...running, running, so fast. He did not look up or down or to the right or to the left. Running Running...ahhhh, boom - Pop! Poor Osebo fell into the pit and hit his head - knocking one of his teeth out.
He was out cold.
So, Anansi grabbed the tooth, climbed back up the web, and called out, "Nyame, Nyame, look what I brought for you."
Nyame was surprised, indeed! "Anansi, you did a good thing bringing me this tooth. You are half way through, but now you must bring me Momboro, the hornets that STTINGG like fire."
When Anansi got back down, he thought and thought. He looked up to the sky for inspiration when a huge hornets' nest high up in a tree caught his eye. Aha! I know just what to do."
First, Anansi went to find a calabash - a large bottle gourd - and filled it with water.
He sprinkled some of the water onto a palm leaf, and then carried it to the top of the tree. Down below was the hornets' nest. He took that large leaf and began shaking it so the water rained down on the nest. Anansi called out, "Momboro, Momboro, look it is raining. Soon your nest will be flooded. Quick, you must leave. One by one Momboro came out. zzzt, zzzt, zzzt. They didn't know where to go. Anansi called out again, "Momboro, you must hurry. There is a calabash on the ground. Go into the calabash, you will be safe." One by one the hornets entered the bottle gourd. Then, Anansi jumped down from the tree, took a stopper, and place it on the calabash. Poor Momboro could not escape. Anansi smiled and said, "Momboro, it is time to go to see Nyame.
He took that calabash all the way to Nyame. You should have seen Nyame's eyes. They just about popped out of his head. "Anansi, I never in a million years expected you to come this far. But, the most difficult gift lies ahead. No one...no one has ever been able to bring me Mmoatia...the invisible fairy."
Anansi did not know how to capture an invisible fairy. So, he went to the wisest person he knew - his wife -Aso. "Aso, Aso, I am so close! So close to having all the stories for myself, but how will I capture Mmoatia!
"Well, Anansi, is it not true that Mmoatia goes dancing under the Baobab tree everyday at noon?"
"Yes," said Anansi, "You are right."
"And, is it not true that Mmoatia LOVES yams?"
"That is true! She does love yams."
"Then, this is what you must do and she whispered in his ear (buzzz)
"Why didn't I think of that!"
So, Anansi took a leaf and placed same yams on it and went into the jungle where the baobab tree grows. He placed the yams under the tree and then went to look for sticky-ooey-goeey pitch. He took that goo and made it look like a little baby and placed it next to the yams. He took some vine creepers and wrapped it around the goo-baby's neck. Holding onto the other end of the vine, he hid behind the baobab tree.
He didn't have to wait long because here came Mmoatioa singing and dancing. You could not see her, it was true, but you certainly could hear her. When she saw the yams just sitting there, her mouth began to water - Oooooo - she loved yams!
So, she went over to the goo baby and she said, "Oh little Bay-bay, May I have some of your yams?"
Now, you remember that Anansi was hiding behind the tree. He took the end of that vine and gently pulled it back and forth - so it looked like the goo baby nodded its head.
"Oh, that you little bay-bay." She took that leaf and she ate and she ate and licked that leaf clean. Then, she put the leaf down next to the baby. "Thank you, thank you, Bay-Bay" But the goo baby say not a word.
"Excuse me, little bay-bay, I said "Thank you." But the goo baby say not a word.
This was making Mmoatia angry. She pointed her finger at the baby and said, "Little Bay-Bay, maybe you don't know, you are just a bay-bay, but when someone says Thank you you must say...You're welcome. "So let's try it, Thank you!" But the goo baby say not a word.
Now Mmoatia was furious. She said, "Little bay-bay, if you do not say You're welcome, I will have to slap you in your crying place. But the goo baby said not a word. So, Mmoatia took her hand and ka-pow! Poor Mmoatia's hand was stuck in the goo-baby's face.
"Let go, let go, or I will slap you in your other crying place." But the goo baby did let go. Ka-pow - now both of Mmoatia's hands were stuck in the goo baby's face. She was so angry, she took her feet and kicked at the goo baby. You guessed it - poor Mmoatia was covered in icky-sticky, ooey-gooey goo.
Anansi came out and said, "Mmoatia, it is time to go visit Nyame. He took his web and wrapped her tight - zzzzzzt. Then, he took her up that web.
"Nyame, Nyame! Look what I have for you."
Nyame said, "Oh Anansi, no one...no one has ever brought me Mmoatia. You are very clever. So my basket of stories belong to you, Anansi!"
Anansi was so happy to have the stories for himself. But when he came to his web, for the first time, he looked down at the Earth and saw how big and beautiful the world truly was. He realized that the stories were not just his. Why, stories belonged to everyone. So, he opened that basket and let the stories spill out - swirling and whirling around as they landed on the Earth. Some of those stories landed in Ireland where the shanachies tell of the leprechauns and the hero Cú Chulainn. They landed in Germany where they tell of the trickster Till_Eulenspiegel Some landed in the Americas where they tell of Coyote and Grandmother Spider. And, yes, many of them landed in Africa, where they still tell stories of a mischievous little fellow named "Anansi the Spider."