Kweku Anansi and His New Wife
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Kweku Anansi and His New Wife
An Akan Story by Farida Salifu
Traditionally, Kweku Anansi is seen as a trickster. The word ‘Anansi’ means spider in Akan, but the character is sometimes portrayed as a man. Folk stories of Anansi originated from the Ashanti tribe in Ghana and have been passed down from generation to generation.
One day, Kweku Anansi went to God to complain that his wife was nothing more than an extra mouth to feed. He also complained that she was eating his share of the food at home. God asked Anansi, ‘What would you like me to do about this problem?’
‘God, please give me a wife with no mouth upon her face,’ replied Anansi.
God looked upon Anansi with bemusement as Anansi never failed to surprise God with his strange reasoning and outlandish plans.
‘Okay,’ said God. ‘Come the morning I shall give you a new wife with no mouth upon her face.’
Anansi was so excited that he went straight to the supermarket to buy yams and plantains for the next day. ‘Finally,’ thought the greedy man, ‘all of the food that I buy will be for me alone to eat!’
Waking up to a beautiful sunny morning, Anansi saw his new wife in the kitchen preparing breakfast. The wife turned and acknowledged her husband with a silent nod, then continued with her breakfast preparations before the stove.
Anansi could not believe that he was lucky enough to have a new wife, one who would cook only for him and eat nothing herself. And he could not believe that he had gotten away with asking for such a wife from God!
Several days passed and things seemed to be going very well… until Anansi went to check on the food supplies in the kitchen. The greedy man was very surprised to discover that most of his food had disappeared. Anansi knew that he could eat a great deal of food, but had he really eaten four bags of rice, six yams, and three plantains in such a short time? He was very puzzled because he was supposed to be the only one eating the food, especially as his new wife didn’t even have a mouth with which to eat.
And so Anansi decided to find out. Over the next few weeks he kept a very close eye on the kitchen. But no matter how closely he looked, he could find nothing unusual at all. His wife cooked every meal only for him. Anansi just did not understand why he still had to buy twice as much food each week. Where was it all going?
Anansi knew that he liked to eat his wife’s cooking, but even he could not finish so much food in such a short time, could he?
One night, Anansi woke up to drink some water as he was very thirsty. It was then that he heard a rumbling noise in the house and quickly went to check on his wife. But when he entered her room he discovered that she was not in her bed. So then he crept towards the kitchen and peered through the open door.
Anansi could not believe his eyes as he stood still in the kitchen doorway. There, sitting on a stool at the table, was his new wife. And she was eating a big bowl of food! He watched in amazement as she scooped up the boiled rice and yams, lifted up her right arm, and put the food into a mouth that was hidden in her armpit!
Anansi was very shocked to see such a thing. He thought to himself, ‘So this is where all of my food has been going. My wife has a secret mouth in her armpit and she has been stealing food during the night! What a mean trick!’
The next morning, Anansi took his wife back to God and demanded to know why she had a mouth hidden in her armpit.
God answered, ‘You asked for a wife with “no mouth upon her face.” And so I gave you a wife with a mouth under her arm. You did not ask for a wife with no mouth at all.’
Anansi felt humiliated and tricked, but God had no sympathy for the greedy man. God said to him, ‘You had a devoted and loving wife, Anansi. But because of your greed and selfishness you thought you would be clever and demand a new wife from me. I am showing you that I am much wiser than you, and I hope you have learnt a lesson here. Greed and selfishness have no place in life.’
Anansi felt ashamed by his greed and begged God to return his old wife to him because he had indeed learned a valuable lesson. From that day on, Anansi was determined to be a better man and not be so selfish. And who knows, perhaps he would even try to be more generous with his food.