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  • Print publication year: 2018
  • Online publication date: August 2019

Ananse's Punishment

from AKAN


There was a terrible famine in the little town where Ananse lived, and he, like the other inhabitants, found it very difficult to obtain food for his family.

One day, gazing despairingly at a pool of water near their farm, he saw a very wonderful thing happening: a little island on which a palm tree was growing was slowly emerging from the midst of the pool. On the palm tree were many palm nuts. On seeing the fruits on the palm tree, Ananse determined to reach this wonderful island and try to pluck some of the palm fruits to send home for food. But how he was to reach this island was his immense difficulty.

He searched round the bush forest near the pool and soon found a little old boat which did not seem fit to bear his weight on the water. He managed to row away to the island. He had enough rest under the palm tree before he started to climb it. He aimed at dropping the palm fruits which he plucked into the boat he had left under the tree; but each time he did that he missed his target and the fruit rolled into the pool. To his annoyance, the last fruit also missed the boat and rolled into the water. As soon as Ananse climbed down the tree he plunged into the pool to recover some of the fruits. To his horror he found himself in front of a small beautiful cottage. From this cottage came a grand old man who asked Ananse what he wanted. Nervously, Ananse told him how he had arrived there. The old man expressed his sympathies and promised to be of help to him.

The old man went into his cottage and brought out a queer-shaped cooking pot. He gave it to Ananse and added that he and his family would never be hungry again because from then onwards all food for them would be provided by the magic pot. Ananse was given instructions on how the pot could be invoked to serve food whenever it was needed. Before Ananse left the old man he tried to see how the pot worked; he invoked it to provide his first meal. He thanked the old man and told him how grateful he was for getting such a help from him for his family.