Anansi is a trickster spider god renowed in parts of Africa, and many stories are told about him. This is one about how Anasi swindled the shopkeeper and tiger with his dead grandmother. Surprised? Lol. Don’t be.

You see, one day Anansi’s grandmother died. She died a soft sweet death. She died a long way from home, so Anansi goes across the island with his handcart, and he gets his grandmother’s body, and puts it on the handcart, and he wheels it home. He’s going to bury her by the banyan tree out the back of his hut, you see. Now, he’s passing through the town, after pushing his grandmother’s corpse in the cart all morning, and he thinks I need some whisky. So he goes into the shop, for there is a shop in that village, a store that sells everything, where the shopkeeper is a very nasty-tempered man.

Anansi, he goes in and he drinks some whisky. He drinks a little more whisky, and he thinks to himself… “I shall play a trick on this fellow.” so he says to the shopkeeper, ” Go take some whisky to my grandmother, sleeping in the cart outside. You may have to wake her, for she’s a sound sleeper.”

The shopkeeper goes out to the cart with a bottle, and he says to the old lady in the cart, “Hey, here’s your whisky,” but the old lady does not say anything.
And the shopkeeper, he’s just getting angrier and angrier, for he was such a nasty-tempered man, saying get up, old woman, get up and drink your whisky, but the old woman says nothing. Then she does something that the dead sometimes do in the heat of the day: she flatulates loudly.

Well, the shopkeeper, he’s so angry with this old woman for flatulating at him that he hits her, and then he hits her again, and now he hits her one more time and she tumbles down from the handcart onto the ground. Anansi, he runs out and he starts crying and wailing and shouting and saying “My grandmother, she’s a dead woman, look what you did! Murderer! Evildoer!”

Now the shopkeeper, he says to Anansi, “Don’t you tell anyone I done this.” and he gives Anansi five whole bottles of whisky, and a bag of gold, and a sack of plantains and pineapples and mangos, to make him hush his shouting and to go away.

So Anansi, he wheels his handcart home, and he buries his grandmother underneath the banyan tree. Now the next day, Tiger is passing by Anansi’s house, and he smells cooking smells. So he invites himself over, and there’s Anansi having a feast, and Anansi, having no other option, asks Tiger to sit and eat with him.

Tiger says, “Brother Anansi, where did you get all that fine food from? And where did you get these bottles of whisky from, and that big bag filled with gold pieces? If you lie to me, I’ll tear out your throat.” So Anansi says, “I cannot lie to you, Brother Tiger. I got them all for taking my dead grandmother to the village on a handcart. And the storekeeper gave me all these good things for bringing him my dead grandmother.”

Now, Tiger, he didn’t have a living grandmother, but his wife had a mother, so he goes home and he calls his wife’s mother out to see him, saying, grandmother, you come out now, for you and I must have a talk. And she comes out and peers around, and says “What is it?”
And Tiger kills her, even though his wife loves her, and he places her body on a handcart. Then he wheels his handcart to the village, with his dead mother-in-law on it. “Who wants a dead body?” he calls. “Who wants a dead grandmother?”

But all the people jeered at him, and they laughed at him, and they mocked him, and when they saw that he was serious and he wasn’t going anywhere, they pelted him with rotten fruit until he ran away. It wasn’t the first time Tiger was made a fool of by Anansi, and it wouldn’t be the last time. Tiger’s wife never let him forget how he killed her mother.
Some days it’s would have been better for Tiger if he’s never been born.


An illustration of Anansi the trickster spider god

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