Kweku Ananse has become a very popular and important aspect of African storytelling (Anansesɛm) in our generation. Now being depicted and renamed by other cultural groups around the globe it is getting harder and harder to know the true origins of this trickster.

Ananse which is the Akan word for Spider is a very famous character who is used and portrayed in many stories. Having originated from the indigenous Akan people in Ghana, its name was used to form the Akan word for Storytelling which is Anansesɛm.

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THE AKAN MYTH ON HOW GOD LIVES IN THE SKY.

In the olden days, God used to be very close to man. He was so close, when you raised your hands to the sky you may end up touching him. Oral tradition tells us that an old woman who liked to pound fufu was the reason God left us. She used to pound her Fufu everyday and during the process, her long pistil would poke God in the sky. It went on for a very long time and everyday God asked her to stop.

The old woman refused to end her wicked ways, she pounded her Fufu each and everyday until God finally packed up and left. After sometime, Humankind began to notice God’s absence. The setout to look for him by building a long ladder but they still couldn’t reach him in his heavenly abode.

This my friends is how God parted ways with humans to live in the sky.

AKANS.
Fufu is a very common staple eaten throughout Africa in various forms.

LITERATUR IN AKAN:

Literature which is mostly referred to as ‘Kodzisɛm’ or ‘Kasadwin’ are pieces of writing which has been meditated on and arranged in the minds of mankind to depict their religious, educational and cultural beliefs in the creation of the world and human lifestyle.

The Akans further group these art of works into two forms. They are Oral literature (Ano Kasadwin) and Written Literature (Akyer3w Kasadwin) with Oral literature being the most prominent in their societies. The Aknas believe that the best way to preserve history is by Orally passing down these important moments to their young in the form of Stories, Riddles, Prayers and Songs.

Ananse in Akan anansesɛm
Other images of Ananse

To them, Oral literature has lots of benefits and it is the surest way of ensuring their legacy lasts forever. Some characteristics of Oral literature are as follows:

  1. They are not owned by anyone. Surely, some geniuses sat down to construct some of the best known stories in modern day Ghana but since these stories were forged decades ago and have been passed on from generations to generations some of the original aspects are bound to be replaced and their writers forgotten.
  2. It is best told with the mouth: Although most of these stories are now being published in books, their oral recountal will forever be the best. Some written versions lack the attitude and emotions the original anecdote has.
  3. It has listeners: No body would tell a story to the wind, therefore Oral literature always has listeners.
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TYPES OF ORAL LITERATURE:

Oral literature has been grouped or arranged into various formats in the traditional setting. These are Mbɛbusɛm (Proverbs), Nsagu (Libation/Prayers), Abagyegye ndwom (Lullaby), Ndwom (Songs), Kasambirenyi (Idioms), Ebisaa (Riddles), ɔdomankomasɛm (God’s word), Abrɔme (Puzzels) and finally Anansesɛm/Kodzi (Folktale).

ANANSE AND ANANSESɛM:

These are stories said for enjoyment and fun. They are real life issues that our ancestors through their wisdom have put together to advice their young. Most of the characters, however, are animals or spirits. It is also used to encourage human interactions and peace. In the olden days, Ananses3m or folktales were told late at night when the moon was out since that was the only time they could get in the day to meet socialize and have fun.

Telling Ananse stories (Anansesɛm)
Storytelling was done at night when the moon was shining brightly.

The youngsters also played in the evening as the early hours of the day were allocated to working and attending school. All who are interested would gather around a fire and the storyteller would begin by saying:

Story teller (Twi/Fante): “Kodzi wɔnngye nndzi ooo!” or “Ananses3m da bi o!”

English Translation: This story is not to be believed as being true.

Listeners (Twi/Fante): “Wɔgye sie.” or “Da biara nye nd3”

English Translation: We will keep and remember it in our daily activities.

Most of the time, they begin their stories by saying “Ny3 ny3 …….” or “Mber bi ab3sen kɔ no, nna……” whose English translation is “Once upon a time.”

One taboo a person can commit during story telling is Talking. Since the story is being told, you as a listener should refrain from talking as it may disturb the other listeners. Kweku Ananse is the main claimant of Ananses3m is usually portrayed as a deceiver, a wise person or someone intelligent.

He and his family which consist of his wife, Okonore Yaa and Ntikuma, his firstborn son; Tikelenkelen, his big-headed son; Nankonhwea, his son with a spindly neck and spindly legs; finally, Afudohwedohwe, his pot-bellied son. Ananse also has a beautiful daughter named Anansewa in other tales.

COMMON CHARACTERS AND THEIR BEHAVIOURS.

The rabbot is also used in Anansesɛm.
Asoaso ~ Rabbit.

There are many other famous characters used in Ananses3m. All of them having different behaviour and mannerisms. They are used in the various stories to depict a moral lesson or share advice.

CHARACTERS BEHAVIOURS OR ATTRIBUTES
God Powerful, King, Pitiful, Creator, Wise
Rabbit Smartness, Wise, Intelligent, Skillful and Vigilant.
Ananse Cheat, Trickster, Selfish, Intelligent, Wise, Lazy
Dog Smartness, Greed, Brave, Fornicator.
Bird Gossips.
Tortoise/Snail Patience, Peaceful
Hunter Patience, Benevolent, Murderer.
Devil Power, Evildoer.
Old woman Helper, Wise, Intelligent, Pitiful.
Cat Thief, Neat, Humble.
Some widely used characters and their Attributes.
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Mgu OR Story songs:

Akans sing songs during anything. Just as they have special songs for Work, Funerals or Sleep, there are also songs prepared mainly for Anansesɛm which is known as Mbɔgu. The story teller or a listener may initiate the song in the middle of the story. The main purpose is to wake up anyone who fell asleep and also revitalize the other listeners. Storytelling is sometimes accompanied with drumming.

When a listner wants to start a singing he or she must say: “Egya anaa Na, suo me fen mu.” By saying this, you gain the narrator’s consent so you can begin singing.

Examples of Story Songs:

♪♪♪ Pɛtɛ pɛtɛ

♪♪♪ senyiwa dedende senyiwa

♪♪♪ Wo maame frɛ wo o!

♪♪♪ Senyiwa dedende senyiwa!

A CLASSIC SONG IN TWI/FANTE
IMPORTANCE OF STORY TELLING FOR AKANS:
  1. It brings togetherness in their societies.
  2. They are told for fun and enjoyment.
  3. It helps children socialize and learn how to talk in public.
  4. It removes shyness.
  5. Anansesɛm is used to advice and also encourage.

Anansesɛm or Storytelling has played a very prominent role in the lives of all Akans including myself. It has shown its importance in our daily activities and has become a basic necessity in my life and there is a need for us to preserve it.

BE SURE TO JOIN OR SUPPORT THE ANANSE STORIES CHALLENGE IN THE FORUM!!!!.

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