Why Anansi Has Eight Skinny Legs
An Akan Story by Farida Salifu
Once upon a time, there lived a spider called Anansi. Though Anansi’s wife was a very good cook, the greedy spider loved nothing more than to taste other people’s food.
One day, Anansi stopped by to visit his friend, the rabbit. ‘Hmm!’ exclaimed the greedy spider as he entered the kitchen. ‘Those are really lovely greens you are cooking, Rabbit.’
‘Why don’t you stay for dinner?’ replied the friendly rabbit. ‘The greens are not yet cooked, but they will be soon.’
Anansi knew that if he stayed while the meal was still cooking, then Rabbit would surely give him chores to do, and the greedy spider did not visit his friend in order to do chores. So Anansi said to Rabbit, ‘Please forgive me, dear friend, but I have some things I must do right away. Why don’t I spin a length of web and tie one end around my leg and the other end around your cooking pot. That way you can tug on the web when the greens are cooked and I will come running back for dinner.’
Rabbit agreed that this was a very good idea, and so he tied Anansi’s web to his pot and waved his friend goodbye.
Moments later, the greedy spider found himself walking past the house of his good friend, the monkey. And it just so happened that Monkey was also in the middle of preparing his dinner.
‘Hmm!’ exclaimed the greedy spider as he entered the kitchen. ‘That is a lovely meal of beans and honey you are cooking, Monkey.’
‘Why don’t you wait until they are cooked and then stay for dinner,’ replied the friendly monkey.
Once again, Anansi knew that if he stayed while the meal was still cooking, then Monkey would surely give him chores to do, and the greedy spider had no desire to do chores. So Anansi said to Monkey, ‘I am very sorry, dear friend, but I have some things I must do right away. Why don’t I spin a length of web and tie one end around my leg and the other end around your cooking pot. That way you can tug on the web when the beans and honey are cooked and I will come running back for dinner.’
Monkey agreed that this was an excellent idea, and so he tied Anansi’s web to his pot and waved his friend goodbye.
On his way home Anansi visited six more friends, all of whom were busy preparing their evening meals.
He visited the tortoise, the hare, the squirrel, the mouse, the fox, and last of all he visited his good friend, the hog. And on each visit, Anansi spun the same old story. And for each friend he spun a length of web for their cooking pot. And so it was that all eight of Anansi’s legs were attached to different cooking pots by long lengths of web.
The greedy spider simply could not resist tricking each of his friends so that he might eat from every pot while avoiding any chores along the way.
Anansi was very much looking forward to all of the food, especially the hog’s sweet potato and honey dish which was always cooked to perfection. ‘I have really outdone myself this time,’ thought the greedy spider. ‘So much lovely food to eat and I even avoided doing any chores in return! I wonder which pot of food will be ready first.’
Just then, Anansi felt one of the lengths of web tug at his leg. ‘That must be the rabbit with his tasty dish of greens,’ thought the greedy spider.
But then another length of web tugged at another of Anansi’s legs. ‘Oh dear!’ he exclaimed out loud, ‘That must be the monkey with his pot of beans and honey.’
Then another leg was tugged! And another! And another! Until all eight of Anansi’s legs were being pulled in different directions at once!
Anansi dragged himself towards the river and jumped into the water so that all of his webs would be washed from his legs. One by one the webs released their grip on his legs until the greedy spider was finally able to climb back onto the riverbank.
When Anansi had recovered and managed to dry himself off, he noticed something very strange. All eight of his legs had been stretched. Where once they were short and wide, now they were thin and long! ‘How could I have been so greedy?’ thought Anansi. ‘Now look at what has become of me. Not only do I have eight skinny legs, but now I must even cook my own dinner!’
And that is why Anansi has eight skinny legs.