By: Cordell Thompson
My fascination with folk’s tales began through my Grandmother who was born in the small village of Mastic Point on the island of Andros.
Mastic Point had once enjoyed a heyday as the major outfitting centre for the sponge industry up until the mid 1934, when the marine animal died suddenly and mysteriously from a blight that has never really been analyzed or identified.
My Grandmother who was born at the turn of the century obviously lived in Mastic Point when it was “flourishing” as they say and she met and had seven children for one of the major sponge fisherman who had migrated to Andros from Exuma. He was a descendent of Loyalist stock and for all intent and looks was a white Bahamian. My Grandmother was of solid African stock with traceable roots to a group of Seminole Indians who migrated from Florida to the West Coast of Andros at the end of the last Century. In more than one way she was a beautiful woman, with sharp features with a copper brown skin and long silky hair.
Papa hailed from George Town, Exuma and they had seven children. He was a sponge fisherman and outfitter. An outfitter was a businessperson who would grant credit to the vessels that were going sponging or sponge fishing. His parents originally migrated from Boston to Exuma, during the American War of Independence and were granted large plots of land in the hope of reestablishing their plantation.
I was born in 1944 and I lived with her until I was about ten or eleven as both my parents had migrated to Florida in the mid World War II migration to fill jobs in farms and factories that were vacated by American Soldiers.
To this day I still believe my grandmother had deep spiritual and mystical powers. She used to “tell” or interpret other people’s dreams and she could also dream “straight” herself, that is if she had an ominous dream about a certain person, the best thing that person could do was probably stay in bed all day. She was an accomplished herbalist. She knew every beneficial herb and bush, their uses and effect on particular ailments. There is a family history of her curing. Kidney stones in my grandfather; common ailments such as colds, worms, nervous headaches, special women ailments were small stuff to her. She knew exactly what to boil and what doses to prescribe.
I don’t believe she was unique in this field, not in those days when proper health care was hard to find and when it was often expensive, she
was just one of those extraordinary Bahamians who knew intuitively the folklore of her people which were in many ways deeply rooted in Africa.
To me she was a magic person. She, like every true Bahamian, believed in “spirits” that could do you harm or do you good. She had a brother we used to call Uncle Josey who could play the guitar better than Joseph Spence and who it is said, learnt his art naked in the graveyard at 12:00 midnight.
Mama accepted the presence of “obeah” or witchcraft although she never practiced it. She was too spiritual; she was deeply religious and attended the Anglican and the Pentecostal Church with equal vigor and punctuality. I tell my children the reason I don’t go to church now is because I had enough church for two lifetimes.
And Mama could pray! She would “salve” or sponge her head with alcohol and tie it for bed just after “dark sheet in”, dusk she would get down in front of her four poster bed and ask God’s blessings on the whole world, the President of the United States, King George, all the relatives who were in the States and mentioning all this particular circumstances. The shortest prayer I estimated took only forty 40 minutes. It was a ritual you had to endure if you expected the real pay off, the old stories.
Old stories are The Bahamas catch-all for the folk tales, spirit tales, riddles proverbs and even Bible Stories that make up the Bahamian oral tradition. I believe my grandmother knew every single last one. I cannot ever remember being bored, and even though I might have thought of recognizing one or two in a new telling, she always knew how to add a new element of surprise or wonder. Mamma would tell these stories every night, propped up on her pillow until she or us (my brothers and two other male cousins fell asleep).
She and others like her were the last of a unique generation. I say that because although my mother, who was also born in Andros, knew a lot of stories hers didn’t quite have the same flavoring that Mama’s had. I can only recite five of eight out of my head, in fact when I tried to entertain my children and found myself short of material I tell them to call their grandmother and ask her to help me finish a story.
The desire to know more about Bahamian folklore has never left me, in fact it becomes more and more of an obsession every day and I suspect it won’t stop until I feel I have heard or experienced every story and its variant that was ever told or might still be available in The Bahamas today.
A more detailed research into Bahamian folklore reveal an African germination and an American Hybridization and these collections will take the approach of comparing the Bahamian folk tales and those of other transplanted African tales in the New World including the Jamaican and the American Southern Black to what might be the original version from Africa. This had led to some fascinating ironies.
The missionaries who assisted the colonization of Africa in the early and late 19th century, went there convinced that the people of that “Dark Continent” could not possibly have any tradition or discipline that resemble “culture” in the sense that story telling, poetry and dance represent a sense of the civilizing process.
In his book “African Folktales” Paul Radin noted “Many otherwise open minded people find it difficult to believe that the Negro, of all aboriginal peoples, should preserve an oral literature of any artistic distinction which could be equated with our own folktales.
The well known German Africanist, Carl Meinhoft, relates, for instance, that when a collection of folk tales from the Cameroon was published in Germany in 1887, many of the white people who had lived in daily contact with the Africans for many years protested quite vigorously and indignantly and insisted that no “Negro” could possibly have composed them.
The vast body of African folklore’s was compiled by white missionaries who obviously set out to prove the primitiveness of non-Europeans. They totally disregarded the ancient civilization of Egypt and Ethiopia that contributed so much to what later between Greek and Western philosophy.
We can also safely assume that African Folk tales were profoundly influenced by the religions of Ancient Egypt with it animal gods with human personalities despite the natural boundaries of deserts, mountains and rivers.
Fundamental to African folklore and with a high degree of sophistication is its emphasis on the contemporary scene, with mankind working out his relationship with other men, whether in human or animal form. This African story teller often took the approach of demolishing human characteristics in animal form, so as not to insult members of his small clan or society whom his story is intended to have a morobitic effect on.
The most common animal figures in African Folk tales were the hare, or tortoise and the spider, small and helpless creatures who outwit larger animals through guile and cunning methods that survived the transatlantic crossing.
Ananci, or Anansi is the Ashanti word for spider and the spider figures largely is the Folk tales of the West Coast of Africa (by which we mean, roughly, the Coast between Cape Verde and the Cameroon. In other parts of Africa, closer to the Congo, his place is taken by the Hare (Brer Rabbit) and in some of his aspects by the tortoise.
We find the “Brer Rabbit” stories (best known through the Uncle Remus tales from the middle and southern states of America) where a large proportion of Africans were imported from Guinea. (The Uncle Remus stories were collected by a white southerner, Chandler Harris).
In what we call to be “The West Indies”, Jamaica, Barbados etc. their main supply of story tale would seem to have been supplied from Upper Guinea, the Lower Niger (Ibo), Coramantin (Gold coast and Ghana). Hausa, Mandingo, Nangoes (or Yoruba from Lower Niger and Hausa and Mandingo from Northern Nigeria).
The African stories in their collection were recorded during the height of Colonialism and were obviously missionary European Language translations of the various African languages and the structure resemble very and proper English. The transplanted stories show the elements of a recently learnt language with syntax and grammatical peculiarities that have now become known as black English or regional dialects. For example the animals are distinguished as “Mr.” or “Brer” or “Buh”, which is generally supposed to be “brother” or be an abbreviation of the word “brother”, but is probably a title of great respect equal to “Mr.”
It is curious to note that the Ashanti word “Nyam”, “to eat”, is found in the Uncle Remus stories and some earlier Bahamian folk tale. It is still a common verb in Jamaica.
I also thought my Grandmother was the only person who used the term” day clean” to describe daybreak, an idiom obviously brought to the Bahamas by the Loyalist slaves at the end of the American Revolutionary War as the term is found in “Uncle Remus, The Folklore of the Old Plantation”, (collected by Joel Chandle Harris, a reporter at the time with the Atlanta Journal Constitution in the 1880′s. Before alarm clocks were common, daybreak would be announced at the period when “fust fowl crow”, and second and third and so on. Sharp citizens would be up at “fust fowl crow” and the more slothful would wait for the third and fourth call.
This collection of stories does not attempt any scientific analysis of themes and motif, a method that has been utilized by other research of folk tales. This is simply an attempt to capture for this generation of nintendo freaks, part of the rich cultural heritage of Bahamian and our ancestors, the Africans.
The Bahamas is recognized as having of the largest collection of folk tales in this part of the world and then phenomena has interested anthropological, sociological and students of folk history since the middle of the last century. This collection draws heavily on this research and in some part are reproduced here with the researcher commentaries which also reveal more about European/white Americans fascination with back African culture.
One of my favorite collections is Zora Neal Hurston’s major literary figure of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920 who was born in Eatonville and who conducted several field trips to The Bahamas. Mrs. Hurston research work was patronized by Elsie Cleo Parson a white philanthropist and sociologist who conducted her own research throughout The Bahamas, visiting the remotest of Bahamian communities on her private yacht.
In a research paper called “Dance Songs and Tales from The Bahamas” by Zora Neale Hurston, the following observations were made:
Zora Neale Hurston festival draws stars to Ft. Lauderdale”
Each year, Zora Neale Hurston enthusiasts from throughout the U.S. and aboard travel to Hurston’s hometown of Eatonville, Florida, for the Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities, which honors the contributions of Hurston and other African-American artists?
Sponsored by the Association to Preserve the Eatonville Community, Inc. the celebration also honors Eatonville’s historical significances as the nation’s first African- American municipality. This year’s festival, the 5th ends on Sun., January 30th.
Many of the people and places Huston encountered in Eatonville are referred to in her works. Her published writings include her autobiography, “Dust Tracks on a Road “; four novels, Jonah’s Gourd Vine, “Their Eyes were Watching God,” “Moses,” “Man of the Mountain,” and “Seraph on the Sewanee;” two collections of folklore, “Of men and Mules,” and “Tell My Horse,” and numerous short stories, articles and plays.
Throughout her life, (1891-1960)), Hurston was known to be exceptionally bright, charismatic and high-spirited. When she was a teenager, she left home and struck out on her own, ending up in Baltimore where she completed her high school education at Morgan Academy in 1918,
She then entered Howard University in Washington, D.C. In her sophomore year, she was awarded a scholarship to Barnard College in New York City as the school’s first Black student. She graduated in 1928 with a degree in anthropology.
She spent the next four years collecting folklore in Harlem and throughout the South. In… years, she continued her anthropological research in the West Indies and Haiti.
During the post-World war era, Zora worked for the Federal Writer’s Project gathering information about Negro life in Florida. She also held teaching positions and worked for a short time scriptwriter in Hollywood.
Despite a tremendous out writing, Zora was never a racial success. During the last of her life, she supported herself as substitute teacher and a columnist for the Ft. Pierce Church weekly newspaper. She died in poverty and obscurity in Ft. Pierce in 1960. Ossie Davis, Ruby George Wolfe, Elizabeth Van: and Maya Angelou will take in the festival this year.
The 1970s sparked a revival interest in Hurston, due in part to enthusiasts such as Pulitzer winning author Alice Walker, Herbert Hemingway, and N.Y. Na… a Cornell University scholar writer and the driving force behind the success of the Huston festival. Nathiri compiled and edited the book, “Zora Neale Huston; A Woman and her Community.
“These songs accompany the exceedingly African folk dance called the fire dance. It was done in the nude formerly, but the British Government has put a penalty on that.
There are two kinds of the dance, the jumping dance, and the ring play, which is merely a more elaborate form of jumping dance. The dances are purely social.
In either form of this dancing, the players form a ring, with the bonfire to one side. The drummer usually takes his place near the fire. The drum is held over the blaze until the skin tightens to the right tone. There is a flourish signifying that the drummer is all set. The players begin to clap with their hands. The drummer cries “Gimbay!” (a corruption of the African word gumbay, a large drum) and begins the song. He does not always select them. The players more often call out what they want played. One player is inside the ring. He or she does his preliminary flourish, which comes on the first line of the song, does his dance on the second line, and chooses his successor on the third line and takes his place in the circle. The chosen dancer takes his place and the dance goes on until the drum gets cold. What they really mean by that is, that the skin of the head has relaxed until it is no longer in tune. The drummer goes to the fire and tunes it again. This always changes the song.
In either form of this dancing, the players form a ring, with the bonfire to one side. The drummer usually takes his place near the fire. The drum is held over the blaze until the skin tightens to the right tone. There is a flourish signifying that the drummer is all set. The players began to clap with their hands. The drummer cries, “Gimbay!” (a corruption of the African work gumbay, a large drum) and begins the song. He does not always select the song. The players more often call out what they want played. One player is inside the ring. He or she does his preliminary flourish, which comes on the first line of the song, does his preliminary flourish, which comes on the first line of the song, does his dance on the second line, and chooses his successor on the third line and takes his place in the circle. The chosen dancer takes his place and the dance goes on until the drum gets cold. What they really mean by that is, that the skin of the head has relaxed until it is no longer in tune. The drummer goes to the fire and tunes it again. This always changes the song. As an example we may take Bimini Gal. A player has just been chosen. The whole assembly is singing in concert.
“Bim’ni gal is a hell of trouble”. Player makes his flourish while yet in the circle.
“Never get a licking till you go down to Bim’ni.” Player dances out to the center of the ring.
“Eh, lemme go down to Bim’ni.” He does his own particular step, which is varied according to the skill of the dancer.
“Never get a licking till you go down to Bim’ni.” He dances up to the one chooses and takes his place back in the circle, as the next dancer winds up for her flourish. Men usually choose women and vice versa. The children play too, and with the adults.
In the ring play, it is to be noted that the songs are longer, as befits a more elaborate dance. The procedure is the same, except that the dancer in the ring does not retire immediately upon selecting his successor. The one chosen enters the ring with him and the two dances a sensuous duet for a full minute or so, then the retiring dancer is swung to his place.
This dancing is universal in The Bahamas, the educated Negroes expected. It resembles the Cuban rumba and the dances held in New Orleans after the great migration of Haitian and Santo Dominican Negroes after the success of L’Ouverture. Every dry night the drums can be heard throbbing, no matter how hard the dancers have worked that day, or must work the next.
DO AN’ NANNIE (HOWDY DO, AUNT NANNIE) (Jumping Dance)
Do An Nan-nie, do an Nan-nie, how you do? Eh, eh, do An Nan-nie do.
Hotel burn down smack and smooth White man run and lef his shoes. Eh, eh, do An Nannie, do.
Do An Annie, etc.
When I was young and in my prime, Devil in hell couldn’t beat my time.
Eh, eh, do An Nannie, do.
Do An Annie, etc.
Now I’m old and getting gray, My constitutions wore away. Eh, eh, do An Nannie, do.
Do An Annie, do An Nannie, how you do? Eh, Eh, do An Annie do.
Bim’ni Gal is a hell of trouble, Never get a licking till you go down to Bim’ni. Eh, lemme go down to Bim’ni, Never get a licking till you go down to Bim’ni.
Jim Curry, Joe Curry bully for Skeleton Never get a licking, etc. Refrain
East, south, east, south, take you to the lighthouse Never get a licking till you go down to Bim’ni – Refrain
MAMA I SAW A SAILBOAT
(A ring-play for children and adults)
Mama I saw a sailboat sailing in the harbor. I saw a yaller boy aboard it and I took him to be my lover.
It’s killing mama, its killing mama. Two shillings in the cooker “Skilling mama ‘skilling mama! ‘Skilling mama.
(A jumping dance)
Lime, Oh lime, juice and all, lime, Oh lime, Dessa, hold yo’ back. Dessa, hold yo’ back O-des-sa,etc.
Caesar Ril’ is a hell of a joker, Hello, Caesar.
Stick his ma wid a great big poker, Hello, Caesar Ri-ley.
Caesar is a hell of a cruel Hello, Caesar.
Something come out like a flour gruel, Hello, Caesar Riley.
Lay on my belly heap more sweat, ma Hello, Caesar.
Lay on my back, sweat more worser, Hello, Caesar Riley.
Laugh gal, laugh, laugh gal laugh, laugh gal, laugh gal, Sponger money. Sponger money never done. sponger money. Sponger money never done,
Laugh gal, laugh, laugh, gal, laugh.
Laugh, gal, laugh, gal,
(This is the refrain).
Sponger money never done
Sponger money never done
Laugh gal laugh, etc.
I don’t eat no cut-up potatoes
I don’t eat no cut-up potatoes
Laugh gal, laugh, etc.
Yo’ Daddy call you a dirty gal
Yo’ Daddy call you a dirty gal
Laugh gal, laugh, etc.
DOWN DE ROAD, BABY
Wish I had a needle, Fine as I could sew, sew my ba-by to my side and down de road I’d go
Down de road, Ba-by.
Down de road, Baby, etc., etc.
MAMA LOOK AT DE BROWNIE
Mama look at de Brownie Mama, look at de Brownie. Mama, John gone Mama, John gone.
WHITE GOWN AND DINGY COAT
Maya, lay, lay, lay, white gown and dingy coat Mama, lay, lay, lay, white gown and dingy coat
Hold up yo’ dress, lemme see yo’coat, white gown and dingy coat.
WHEEL MISS CURRY
(Ring Plav Dance)
Mother, may I go to school; Yes, my darling, you may go. You may put on a ribbon bow why you wheel Miss Curry so.
Wheel Miss Curry, buck her so. Wheel Miss Curry, etc.
FAREWELL TO THE ROCK (AFRICA)
Eh, yea ai yea, Lah, nah sah wu, Ray, ray, ai yea, Nah, nah sah rue!
This drum song is from Fox Hill the p purely descended African colony at Nassau. It is a Yoruba song. Translated it means, “Farewell to you (Who remain) we are going we know not where.” It is wailed over and over and over and grows more mournful as it goes. The dancing posture even weeps. It is slow and the drum is very eerie.
Eh, yea ai yea (sudden expulsion of the end of the breath and an accented inhalation)
Lah, nah sah wu (same business)
Ray, ray, ai yea
Nah, nah, sah rue.
THE SNAKE AND THE GUM MALL’IMIE TREE
One day the snake climbed up the gum mallimie tree to take a nap. A soon as he went to sleep, he fell out of the tree and sprained his back. He go very angry for he believed that the tree deliberately threw him out. So he cursed the tree. The tree tried to explain, but the snake wouldn’t listen. He kept on cursing the tree. So the tree got mad, too, and told the snake: “Well, it you want to believe I hurt purposely, do so. And since you cheek me about it I’m going to be hard on you and your children.” So that is why no snake will climb the gum mallimie tree. And since the snake cheeked the tree, if you touch a snake with a gum mallimie twig, it will paralyze him.
ADAM AND EVE
The reason the world is so wicked is because the first child born in the world was a bastard. Cain was a bastard child. He was the son of the Devil.
One day Adam was working out in the field and the Devil turned himself into a good-looking man and come to see Eve. He had been wanting to get you to her for a long time. So he showed Eve this deep point about everything and got Eve all excited about this apple tree.
So they went out under the apple tree and Eve parted with what she didn’t know she had. She bit Satan on the neck and shoulder. They was under the tree and that’s why people make love under trees today.
So he knowed there was going to be some hereafter to the thing, so he put her up to get Adam into it, too. So soon as Adam come home Eve started in on him and kept on until he got mixed up in it.
Next day Eve had on a pretty calico dress and Adam was dressed, too, when God come and drove them off. Adam blamed Eve because he knowed something was wrong – but he didn’t know what.
Way after, Adam and Eve quarreled about how she come to know what she knowed. Adam would ask her: “Did Satan do with you as I do?” She would say : Naw, honey, didn’t I tell you he just told me about it, and I told you just as he told me.”
“But, Eve, I can’t understand why you didn’t call me to talk with him and let me tell him instead of you lying about with him all the afternoon like you did.”
That is the way they used to fuss about Satan. So when Cain was born Adam saw he looked just like Satan and not a bit like him, and they fussed some more; but Eve stuck to her point and Adam has to shut up. When Abel was born he compared the children, and there wasn’t no comparison between them.
So that is why Cain hated Abel, because they were not whole brothers. And that is why God wouldn’t accept Cain’s sacrifice – because he was the Devil’s son. And that Is why he accepted Abel’s sacrifice – because he was Adam’s son.
So when Cain killed Abel he fled away and married a gorilla. So all of the people in the world come from Cain that gorilla. That is how the animal got into us. That’s how come those old patriarchs use to live so long. They were close to the gorilla and strong. That’s why old Methuselah lived nine hundred and sixty-nine years – he was just full of that old gorilla blood.
As time goes on that old animal blood works out and leaves the human blood. That is why they say we are growing weaker and wiser.
THE SOLOMON CYCLE
Do you now why Solomon said, “Vanity of vanities; all is vanity and a vexation to spirit?” Well, you see, Solomon married up thousands of women. The say them folks way back didn’t have no sense, but Solomon was the wisest man that ever lived.
He had a room in that gold palace with a glass ceiling in it. Whenever one of his new wives would be brought to him, before he would see her he would sit and talk with her awhile in that room over the glass floor. If she looked to suit him, he would excuse himself and make out he had some business out in the yard. Then he would go into that room with the glass ceiling and look up at the girl sitting upstairs.
Well, after he had done married hundreds of girls he got a little old. He wasn’t so old in years, but he was all tired out.
Then here comes the Queen of Sheba to visit him. She was very beautiful and everything, and Solomon took her right up to the room and entertained for a while. Then he went downstairs and peeped up. She was beautiful every way he looked at her, but he realized his constitution wore away.
Then Solomon took off his crown and dashed it against the wall and said “All is vanity and vexation of spirit.”
When the Queen of Sheba visited Solomon she fell in love with him right away, but he talked very slow. So she said to him “King Solomon I want something.”
He said “You can have anything you want, even to half of my kingdom. What is it you want?”
She says “I want some water to drink.”
She said “No, I don’t want no water out of no golden goblet. I want a drink of living water, and I don’t want no water out of no well; I don’t want no water out of no lake; I don’t want no water out of no river, nor no stream, nor no pump. But I am thirsty, I want a drink!”
So Solomon called one of his men and told him to take his fastest race horse and put him on the track and to take a basin with him and to run that horse until he sweat that full bowl of sweat.
After a while the man come back with the bowl of horse-sweat and Solomon put it in a golden bowl and handed it to Sheba to drink.
She throwed it on the ground and told him “I heard that you was a very wise man, but you don’t know how to quench thirst.”
So she went home.
When the Queen of Sheba come to Solomon he loved her son as he saw her, but she acted so indifferent he didn’t know how to get up to her.
So you know he was a very wise man, so he thought up a scheme. So he told her “Now Queen of Sheba, you mustn’t steal nothing while you are here in my kingdom. If you do, I will punish you in any way I want to. You will have to do anything I say.”
She said “Oh no, I don’t steal.”
So he give her a great banquet, and everything was salty. He didn’t have a drop of drinking water nowhere. There was a fountain out on the lawn and that was the only water to be found around the palace.
After the dinner was over, Solomon run out and hid in the bushes close to the fountain and waited.
Pretty soon the Queen sneaked up to the fountain and got a drink water.
Soon as she got through, Solomon rose up and said, “Unh hunh, Queen of Sheba, I told you not to steal and here you are stealing my water.”
He called the servants and had her took right into the palace. She was in his power then.
WHY THE DOG HAS A SMALL WAIST
Once Brer Anansy cooked some dunkanoo (a sort of pudding) and wrapped it up in pieced of banana leaves to cool. He went on back into the house. the dog sneaked up and swallowed five of the dunkanoo and was about to swallow all, when Brer Anansy came out and caught him. He grabbed Brer Dog around the waist and squeezed three of the dunkanoo out of Brer Dog and that left that sunken space in his flanks. That is why dogs have neat waists.
HOW MAN GOT HIS MUSTACHE
Man used to have hair on his face but no mustache. In those days women had hair around the anus like men. But one day Woman said to Man “You have no hair on your lips and I think you would look better with some on your top lip. Now I have some hair that is too far back to do me any good, so I’ll give it to you.”
So Woman rob herself and make Man a present of it. It was not convenient to her, so she slapped it cross his mouth and it’s there yet.
Once God went to Nassau and walked all round the island of New Providence. The Devil was in Cat Island when he heard that God was in The Bahamas. So he hurried to New Providence to see what God was doing there, but God wouldn’t let him come ashore, so he ran along the west coast as God walked along the road. If you don’t believe it, you can go there now and see his tracks.
THE OLD WOMAN AND HER CHILD
Once there was an old woman who had a little girl. One day she was sending her out with some fig. She said to the little girl; “Don’t give anybody a fig.”
And the next day the horse was left home to cook and then the
man came and asked for some food and the horse would not give it to him. So he kill the horse. The next day the devil stay home too. So the man came and asked for some food and the devil would not give it to him. So he fight the devil and the devil beat him and threw him out. His house was under the devil house and he had to come out through a hole, and the devil put his coat over the hole. So he never come out and died in there.
This is the end.
THE SPERRIT HOUSE
Once upon a time was a good old time. Money chew tobacco and spit white lime.
Now it was Brer Bookie and Brer Rabbit used to go out stealing. Go to the sperrit house and this night Brer Bookie see Brer Rabbit coming down wid a dray load of things. Brer Bookie say “Brer Rabbit, where you get all these good things from?” He scratch he head.
Brer Rabbit tell him “From de sperrit house and tomorrow morning at six o’clock I will take you to get something too.”
Bookie wake up at five o’clock and say to Brer Rabbit “Six o’clock now time to go. Six o’clock now time to go.”
Rabbit say “Naw, it ’tain’t six o’clock yet.”
So Bookie ketch a big fire in de yard to say daylight come. Rabbit say “No, mon, daylight ain’t come yet.”
So when six o’clock come, Brer Rabbit put on his clothes and both of them went till they come to the sperrit house. When they come there Rabbit say “My house come down so low.” And the house come down and they went in and Brer Bookie say “Mon, good food in here, good food in here. I will cook a pot of peas and rice.”
And he did and both of them sit down and eat. And when it was time for them to go, Brer Bookie didn’t went. He say “Mon, I got to stay and eat.”
And Brer Rabbit went out and said, “My house, my house, go up so high.” and he went up.
And when it was time for the sperrits to come, they said “My house, my house, come down so low. And they went in and said “Someone has been in here.”
They begin to cook peas and rice and salt, but when it was finish the sperrit give his little girl a pan full and she went by de bed to sit down and eat. Bookie had done hid under the bed from the sperrits.
Bookie said to her “Gimme some, gimme some.” And he beg and beg.
And she went and ax her father for more and the father give it to her, and he eat all that from the little girl. And she went and ax for more and her father say, “Your gut must be big as a barrel eh?”
After Bookie done eat all dat from her, she say, “I got two papa. One of top de bed and one underneath de bed.”
The de sperrit get a sea rod and beat him – Bookie- wid it. All de time the house going up, and he t’row him out and broke Bookie neck.
Biddy, biddy bend,
My story is end.
Turn loose the rooster. And hold the hen.
THE THREE SONS
Once upon a time was a good old time;
Monkey chew tobacco and spit white lime.
There was a man. He had three sons. One day he send the eldest out into the woods to feed the goat. And the son looked for the greenest place to feed the goat. And when he was ready to go home he asked de goat have he had sufficient and the goat said. “I had enough till I hardly can pull.”
When the goat went home, the father axed the son if he give the goat a plenty of food. And the son said, “Yes, I have give it plenty.” And the father axed the goat he have enough and the goat said, “I hadn’t hardly anything.” He beat that son out and drove him away.
And the next day he sent the other son wid de goat and the son looked for the greenest place to feed the goat. And when he was going home he axed the goat if he had sufficient and the goat said, “I had enough till I hardly could pull.”
When the son went home the father asked if he give plenty and he said, “I had hardly anything.” And he beat that son and he stoned him away.
The next day he sent the last son and when the son went and looked for the best spot he could find. And when he was going home he axed the goat if he had sufficient and the goat said, “I had enough till I hardly can pull.” When the goat got home the father axed the got had he had enough and the goat said, “I hardly had anything. So he stoned that son out.
And the next day father went and looked for the best place and when he was hardly can pull.” And when get home axed the goat had he had enough and the goat said, “I hardly had anything.
So he said, “You was the cause of my three soon not being here today,” and he killed the goat and sent it away. And the eldest son was coming home then, and the man who he was working with give him a table. And he said, “This is not an ordinary table. Just as you say “Table be covered, the table will have all kinds of nice food on it.”
When he come that night he stopped at the restaurant and then he begin to eat. He say to the landlord, “I could get better food than all of you all.” Just as he say “Table be covered” the daintiest food come on and everybody wanted some, and he give everybody some. And after he lodged there that night, while he was asleep the landlord stole away his table and put his table there and when he wake up that morning, he didn’t notice his table. He just take it up and went on and when he get home he told his father he have got a table can be covered with the best food. Just as I say, “Table be covered” the best food come on. So he called all the neighbors around the people was saying, “We won’t have to eat no dinner at home then.” So he said, “Table be covered,” and nothing come on the table. He was shame and the people had to went back without anything. And the father said, “I have to take up my needle and thread again.”
Next day the other son come. And when he was leaving his master give him a donkey and he told him, “This is not an ordinary donkey. Soon as you say ‘brickle-a-brick,’ piles of gold will come.” So he came to the same restaurant.
When get his food he give the man a piece of gold he axed the boy where he get it. And he didn’t say anything. He went outside and said “brickle-a-brick” and piles of gold come on the table cloth. And the landlord was peeping through a hole and he saw him, and after that he tied his donkey and that night he went to bed. While he was sleep the landlord went and stole his donkey and put his donkey in place. And the next morning he didn’t notice the donkey. He went home and told his father about his donkey and he called all the neighbors around. When the neighbors came he said “brickle-a-brick” and the donkey didn’t do anything. And he was so shame and he wrote to the youngest brother telling him what the landlord had stole from the two brothers.
So when the last son was leaving, his master gave him a stick in the sack. He said “this is not a n ordinary stick”, just as you say “stick out the sack”, it will jump out and beat up your enemies”.
And when he came the landlord was watching this bag. When he went to bed he played sleep. The landlord went and take the bag away and the boy get up and say “stick out de sack” and the stick jumped out and beat up the man. He had to plead for mercy. The say “stick in de bag, if you promise to gie me two things you stole from my brothers I’ll have mercy on you”. And he promised him that he will give that will give back the table and the donkey. And he give it to him. And he went home with all to his father and brothers and the father said, “at last I will put down my needle and thread”. “Biddy, biddy, biddy, my story is ended, I let go Dorothy and hold you.”
DOG AND BRER GOAT
Once upon a time Brer Tiger and Mrs. Tiger invited all the creatures in the world to come to a party, but only Brer Dog and Brer Goat came.
So now Miss Tiger and Brer Tiger wanted them all to eat. So Miss Tiger and Brer Dog begin to dance together. Brer Tiger began to sing, “Push him in the room door, oh, my wife”. Brer dog switch his tail round/and Miss Tiger could not get him in. So Brer dog sing this time and Miss Tiger and Brer goat dance. So Brer dog sing, “The man who can’t run better go before (they) rig (up) plan”.
So Brer goat ran away and went to the side of a river until Brer dog came. So Brer dog said, “I am going , Miss Tiger and Brer Tiger”. They asked, ” You going already?”. He said, “Yes”.
So they wait until he got a little way and they started behind him. So Brer dog went and cover up Brer Goat, only leaving his horn and his hind feet out. So Brer dog swim across in time.
So he said, “Come here, Brer dog, I got something to tell you good”. (Min’, Brer Tiger ain’t fot nothing in him – just want to eat him.)
So he said, “throw me that log side your feet so I can swim over on it”. So Brer Tiger throw it to him. (In vain – it was Brer Goat) Brer Dog and Brer Tiger said, “One time you had your fortune in your hand, but you lose it”.
THE DEVIL AND THE DAUGHTER
Once upon a time was a good old time, the monkey chew tobacco and he spit white lime.
Once upon a time the woman had a daughter and every time she go out to pick berries for her and her daughter, and every time she come back she sing a song:
Angelecky mammy die-er Blessed me coomby deer Sin sin barney a, brinna day.
Every time she hear her mother sing she run down and open the door.
So somebody tell the devil she got this pretty daughter in the house. She
don’t go out . So he sent the white bird to learn this sing so he can get in.
And after that the white bird went and learn the song and teach it to the
devil, and after that he hum to go to hisseif and sing. After the whit bird tell de sing, de devil went to see if he could sing, but the voice too heavy and she don’t let him in.
After he went to the blacksmith – axed him to chop off half his tongue. After the blacksmith chop it off it was still too long, it was still too heavy. He sent de white bird to sing and the white bird sing and the girl jump down and open the door and de devil take the girl on his back and went with her.
When the girl mother came she didn’t met her daughter and she start
crying. And the berries what she bring for her daughter all grown on her and she went weeping through de bushes growing on her body looking for her daughter. And when she went way through her daughter’s servant was at the sea taking bathe and she hear her mother sing and she went and tell mistress and she mistress say, “Can you say a word whut you hear the lady sing?”.
And she sing “Angelecky mamy die-er”.
De lady daughter run. She say it was her mother. She pull all de vine off her mother and she clean her all up. And she leave her mother there till she went home and pick up all her things and de devil had a witch rooster. And the rooster tell her, “You wash out your bloomers and sprinkle the water all over the grass”. If she don’t come dat de devil smell all their foot track and know where they went. So she did dat and they left. After they be gone, de devil come home. She had carried de devil rooster wid her.
Usually when de devil come home he crow and de rooster crow back. But when he come dat day de rooster don’t crow, so he couldn’t follow, cause she done took his witch rooster.
Biddy, biddy bend My story is end.
WHY MULES HAVE NO COLTS
Mules used to have colts like other animals, but one day when Jesus
started into Jerusalem, he first got a mule but the mule threw Christ and hurt him. Christ got up off the ground and cursed the mule, so they can’t multiply like other animals. They have to get here the best way they can.
WHY ALL ANIMALS LOOK DOWN
Once all the animals walked erect and looked forward as men do now. But after the snake seduced Eve, God fixed it so all animals look down. So that they would know that they are different from man.
WHY WOMEN TALK SO MUCH
Well, God made Adam and Eve in de garden, Eve was dumb. So Adam
said to god, “Why God, dis woman is dumb”. Dis woman can’t talk. She is no service to me. I can’t enjoy her, she has no tongue.
Just then a rabbit came up. God reached down and snapped de rabbit tail and put it in de woman mouth. The hair on de tail made her spit and she keep trying to spit de hair out. That is why she moved her tongue so.
THE TALL TALE
Once there was a little boy who had the habit of telling very large stories.
If he saw a squirrel in the woods he would come home and tell his father that he had seen something as big as a bear. If he killed two birds at a shot, he will boast that he has killed a couple of dozen. One day this boy came home and told his father that he has seen a big rat as big as an ox.
“Oh no, said the father, “not as big as an ox.” “Yes,” said the boy, “as big as an ox.” “Well,” the father said – no more.
But next day he and his son started out upon a journey. They traveled on
foot and soon came to a broad river.
“What stream is this?” asked the boy.
“It is a dangerous one for those who tell large stories,” said the father. “Come, my son we must swim across it.”
The boy began to shake his head as if he were ill.
“What the matter with you said the father? “Why, I am thinking of that rat, ” said the boy. “Well what of the rat?”
“I don’t think it was bigger than a sheep,” said the youth.
At the time the water was coming up to his neck. He cried out: “Father,
father, help, help, for I am going to drown.”
Then the father said: “What about the rat?”
“Father,” said the boy, “after all it was only a mouse.”
MAN AND DE BOY
An over-average sized man he walked up to de boy and say:.”Boy, whut is
“My name is Sense-more-than-man, sir. Whut is you name, sir?” “My name is Man-more-than-boy.”
He gave the boy some money and sent him to the market. He told him to
bring six cents worth of everything he could find and he says: “The last of all, bring me six cents worth of God damn….” (gesture of slinging something distasteful from fingers).
Boy goes to the market and get those things all right. When he come
back the man said: “Did you get those things?”
He had there prickly pears and he put ‘em just midway of his basket. Now
the boy stood at a distance while he is taking the things from the basket. When he got to these prickly pears he )makes gesture). The boy says” “Yessuh, that’s it right now, sir.”
Now when he sent him on another errand. He says: “Four o’clock in the
morning I want you to go milk dat bull cause I want dat milk to put in my coffee.”
He had a coconut palm right over his window and some coconut on it. De
boy goes up, commence to pickin coconuts and drop ‘em down on de ground.
Looked out de window, did the man: “What are you doin there?”
“My father had a birth and I am getting coconuts to give him some milk!”
“Whoever heard of a man having birth?” “Whoever heard of a bull having milk?”
Now then the next errand. He give him three sacks of money and sent him
off to buy some sheep. He said: “Buy me some sheep. I cannot come. You will have to send for them. But don’t sent sunshine, don’t send midnight, don’t send midday, don’t send moonshine, don’t send dark night. But send.”
So he had “Sense-more-than-man.”
OLD STORIES DEMANAN’DE DOG
Now dis day it was one man. ‘E had one sour-sop tree; ‘e didn’t use to let no people know. He wife an’ ‘e children could hardly get anything to heat. Every mornin’ de man use t’ go from his house to dat tree to heat his breakfast.
Now de woman say, “Wonde’ whey my husban’ does git hevry t’ing to heat” She get one bag o’hashes. She say, “My husban, “come ‘ere an’ let me fix your shirt!” Den she tied de bag hases on he back. Wen de man was goin’ to dat tree de hashed did drop hout. ‘E went to his sour-sop tree; ‘e heat as much ‘s ‘e wan; den ‘e come avay. Wen ‘e come home woman say, “My husban, ‘come ‘ere; le’ me fix your shirt again.” Den she take de bag hashes off ‘im.
Hafter dat de woman went dert to de sour-sop tree; she pull hevry one clean; only leave one. De man say, “My soul! somebody ben here, take hall my sour-sop!” De man climb up in de tree. ‘E take one stick; ‘e reach up to dat limb and’try to get ‘e sour-sop down, and’e couldn’t get it.
‘E see B’ Sheep; ‘e say, “B Sheep, get dis sour-sop fur me; I’ll give you half.” B’ Shep say, “No, I wan’ hall!”
‘E see B’ Tiger. De man say, “B’ Tiger, get dis sour-sop fur me; I’ll give you half.” B’ Tiger say, “No, I wan’ hall!” Den he see B’Dog; ‘e say’ “B Dog “B Dog say E say, “Get dis sour-sop fur me; fur me; I give you half.” D’Dog say, “Hall right! B’Dog Ketch it. Soon’s ‘e git ‘im, so, ‘e put hoff a running, ‘im an de dog. De dog fin de man vwas en hall on ‘em so ‘e burry right up in de sand.
Now de dog jus’ leave ‘e two heyes out; vw’en ‘e de man say, Ho my! look at de san’ got heyes.” De man vwen, tell de people de san got heyes. ‘E gone call hall de people. Vw en hall on ‘em come now, dey look; dey say, “Ho yes, de san’ got heyes fur thruth!”. Vw en’ de man dig; vw’en ‘e foun’ hout vwas dat same dogm e’ ketch ‘im e’ squeeze im deed.
E bo ban, may story’s en;
If you don’t believe my story’s true, Hax my captain an my crew
B’ LOGGERHEAD, B’ DOG, AND B’RABBY
Now dis day B’Loggerhead an’ B’Dog couldn’t find nothing to heat. B’ Loggerhead say, “B’ Dog, you like fish?” B’ Dog say, “Yes!” B’Dog say, “B’Loggerhead, you like conch?” B’Loggerhead say, “Yes.”
Now dey gone; dey gone to B’Rabby’s craw. Plenty conchs an’ fish vwas dere. So B’Loggerhead pitch right indise; gone right flat to bottom.
W’en B’dog pitch, ‘e float. ‘E pitch again; float! Pitch again; float! B’Dog say, “I cahn’ get no fish; I goan, tell B’ Rabby!” B’Dog gone.
B’Rabby vwas vay upon de hill lookin’ at’em. B’ Dog say, “Hey, B’Rabby! B’Loggerhead down dere eatin’ all your conchs!” B’Rabby ketch B’dog; vw’ en ‘e dash ‘im down ‘e kill im. ‘E gone; ‘e taught ‘e do B’Loggerhead like ‘e do B’Dog. Wen ‘e fire de stick at B’Loggerhead, so, B’Loggerhead bump right out de craw. ‘E take one little boat; ‘e nearly turn de boat over. Good! B’Rabby say, “You know you goin” aink mw.” Wen B’Loggerhead pitch at B’Rabby, so ‘e knock de boat right over. B’Rabby say “0 damn! I gone!”
B’BIG-HEAD, B’BIG-GUT, AN’ B’TIN-LEG
Dis day it vwas B’Big-head, Big-gut, an’ B’Tin-leg. Dey ain’t had no pa. Dey ma vwas dead. Dey only had four doug boys. So now B-head say, “Now, brothers let’s go look for water now. Now dey share o’ dough boys; dey all three, each had little can. Dey each put dough boys in de can, an’ dey vwent to look for water now. Dey walk til dey come to one coco nut tree; now B’Big-gut say “You go, B-head”. B-head say, “I can’t go ;” ‘e say, “If I go, soon as I look down, my head so big I fall down!” Den ‘e say to B’B-gut ‘e go. B’big-gut say, “My gut so big if I go, I fall down!”. Now B-tin-leg say, “I’ll go! Now all on; em had de dough boys down on de grund. Now B’Tin-leg look down an’ see B’Biggut brushin’ up de tree.
Vwe ‘en B’tin-leg look down an’ B’Big-gut brushin de flies off his dough boys, B’Tin-leg t’ ought B’Big-gut vwas eatin’ it. ‘E jes’ kill himself on de coco’ nut tree; kickin’ an’ flingin’, jes’ so. B’Big-gut laugh so much till ‘e bust his gut.
Den it only leave B’Big-head, one now. Now B’Big-head vwen’ to look for water. B’Big-head come to one well. ‘E vwas drinkin’ water. B’Heagle come dere, an’ de Heagle did want water an’ B’Big-head wouldn’t let him get none. Den him an’ de Heagle had a fight. De Heagle kick him. When de Heagle went an’ kick him B’Big-head ketch his foot. After B-Big-head ketch his foot, den’e couldn’ hold it, an’ de Heagle shake ‘im all to pieces.
HOW SPIDER OBTAINED THE SKY-GOD’S STORIES
KWAKU ANANSE, the spider, once went to Nyankonpon, the sky-god, in order to buy the sky-god’s stories. The sky-god said, “What makes you think you can buy them?” The spider answered and said, “I know I shall be able.” Thereupon the sky-god said, “Great and powerful towns like Kokofu, Bekwia, Asumengya, have come, but they were unable to purchase them, and yet you who are but a mere masterless man, you say you will be able?”
The spider said, “What is the price of the stories?” The sky-god said, “They cannot be bought for anything except Onimi, the python; Osebo, the leopard; Mmoatia, the fairy; and Mmoboro, the hornets.” The spider said, “I will bring some of all these things, and, what is more, I’ll add my old mother Nsia, the sixth child, to the lot.”
The sky-god said, “Go and bring them then.” The spider came back; and told his mother all about it, saying, “I wish to buy the stories of the sky-god, and the sky-god says I must bring Onimi, the python, Osebo, the leopard; Mmoatia, the fairy, and Mmoboro, the hornets; and I said I would add you to the lot and give you to the sky-god.” Now the spider consulted his wife, Aso said, “What is to be done that we may get Onini, the python?” Aso said to him, “You go off and cut a branch of a palm tree, and cut some string-creeper as well, and bring them.” And the spider came back with them. And going along, he said, “It’s longer than he is, it’s not so long as he; you lie, it’s longer than he.”
The spider said, “There he is, lying yonder.” The python, who had overheard this imaginary conversation, then asked, “What’s this all about?” To which the spider replied, “Is it not my wife, Aso, who is arguing with me that this palm branch is longer than you, and I say she is a liar.” And Onini, the python said, “Bring it, and come and measure me.” Ananse took the palm branch and laid it along the python body.
Then he said, “Stretch yourself out.” And the python stretch himself
out, and Ananse took the rope-creeper and wound it and the sound of the tying was nwenene! nwenene! nwenene! until he came to the head.
Ananse, the spider, said, “Fool, I shall take you to the sky-god and receive the ski-god’s tales in exchange. ” So Ananse took him off to Nyame, the sky-god. The sky-god then said, “My hand has touched it, there remains what still remains.” The spider returned and come and told his wife what had happened, saying, “There remain the hornets.” His wife said, “Look for a gourd, and fill it with water and go off with it.” The spider went along through he bush, when he saw a swarm of hornets hanging there, he poured out some of the water and sprinkled it on them. He then poured the remainder upon himself and cut a leaf of plantain and covered his head with it. And now he addressed the hornets, saying, “As the rain has come, and you not better come and enter this, my gourd, so that the rain will not beat you; don’t you see that I have taken a plantain leaf to cover myself?” Then the hornets said, “We thank you, Aku, we thank you, Aku.” All the hornets flew, disappearing into the gourd, fom! Fahter Spider covered the mouth, and exclaimed, Fools, I have got you, and I am taking you to receive the tales of the sky-god in exchange.
And he took the hornets to the sky-god. The sky-god said, “My hand has touched it; what remains still remains.” The spider came back once more, and told his wife, and said, “There remains Osebo, the leopard.” Aso said, “Go and dig a hole.” Ananse said, “That’s enough, I understand.” Then the spider went off to look for the leopard’s tracks, and, having found them he dug a very deep pit, covered it over, and came back home. Very early next day, when objects began to be visible, the spider said he would go off, and when he went, lo, a leopard was lying in the pit. Ananse said, “Little father’s child, little mother’s child, I have told you not to get drunk, and now, just as one would expect of you, you have become intoxicated, and that’s why you have fallen into the pit. If I were to say I would get you out, next day, if you saw me, or likewise any of my children, you would go and catch me and them.” the leopard said, “0 I could not do such a thing.”
Ananse then went and cut two sticks, put one here, and one there, and said, “Put one of your paws here, and one also of your paws here.” And the leopard placed them where he was told. As he was about to climb up, Ananse lifted up his knife, and in a flash it descended on his head, gao! was the sound it made. The pit received the leopard and fom! was the sound of the falling. Ananse got a ladder to descent into the pit to go and get the leopard out. He got the leopard out and came back with it, exclaiming, “Fool, I am taking you to exchange for the stories of the skygod.” He lifted up the leopard to go and give to Nyame, sky-god. The sky-god said, “My hands have touched it; what remains still remains.”
Then the spider came back, carved an Akua’s child, a black flat-faced wooden doll, tapped some sticky fluid from a tree and plastered the doll’s body with it. then he made eto, pounded yams, and put some in the doll’s hand. Again he pounded some more and placed it in a brass basin; he tied string round the doll’s waist, and went with it and placed it at the foot of the odum tree, the place where the fairies come to play, and a fairy came along. She said, “Akua, may I eat a little of this mash?” Ananse tugged at the string, and the doll nodded her head. The fairy turned to one of the sister’s saying, She said I may eat some.” She said, “Eat some, then.” And she finished eating, and thanked her. But when I thank her , the doll did not answer. And the fairy said to her sister, “When I thank her, the doll did not reply.” The sister of the first said t her sister, “Slap her crying-face.” And she slapped it, pa! And her hand stuck there. She said, “Take the one that remains and slap her crying-face again.” And she took it and slapped her, pa! and this one, too, stuck fast. and the fairy told her sister, saying, “My two hands have stuck fast.” She said, “Push it with your stomach.” She pushed it and her stomach stuck to it. Ana ananse came and tied her up, and he said, “Fool, I have got you, I shall take you to the sky-god in exchange for his stories.” And he went off home with her.
Now Ananse spoke to his mother, Ya Nsia, the sixth child, saying, “Rise up, let us go, for I am taking you along with the fairy to go and give you to the sky-god in exchange for his stories.” He lifted them up, and went off there to where the sky-god was. Arrived there he said, “Sky-god, here is a fairy and my old woman whom I spoke about, here she is, too.” Now the sky-god called his elders, the Kontire and Akwam chiefs, the Adonten, the Gyase, the Oyoko, Ankobea, and Kyidon. And he put the matter before them, saying, “Very great kings have come, and were not able to buy the sky-god’s stories, but Kwaku Ananse, the spider, has been able to pay the price I have received from him Osebo, the leopard; I have received from him Onini, the python; and of his own accord, Ananse has added his mother to the lot; all these things lie here.” He said, “Sing his praise.” “Eee!” they shouted. The sky-god said, Kwaku Ananse, from today and going on forever I take my sky-god’s stories and I present them to you, Kose! kose! kose! my blessing, blessing, blessing! No more shall we call them the stories of the sky-god, but we shall call them spider-stories.”
This, my story, which I have related, if it be sweet, or if it be not sweet, take some elsewhere, and let some come back to me.
HOWABOSOM, THE LESSER GOD’S CAME INTO THE WORLD
There once was a certain woman who bore eleven children. Every day when she got up and cooked food the children ate it all and the mother did not get any of it. She pondered long about the matter, and went off to the plantation and spoke to the silk-cotton tree, saying, “I shall send my eleven children to come beneath you here to pluck pumpkins; and when they come, pluck off eleven of your branches and kill those children of mine.”
The silk-cotton tree said, “I have heard, and I shall do it for you.” The mother then went home and said to her children, “You must go to the plantation beneath the silk-cotton tree; there are pumpkins there. Go pick them and come back.”
The children set off. They went and reached the silk-cotton tree. Number Eleven said, “Number One, stand still; Number Two, stand still; Number Three, stand still; Number Four, stand still; Number Five, stand still; Number Six, stand still; Number Seven, stand still; Number Eight, stand still, Number Nine, stand still; Number Ten, stand still; and I myself, Number Eleven, I have stood still.:
Number Eleven then addressed them, saying, “Do you not know the sole reason why Mother said we must go and pick pumpkins?”
His brothers answered, “No.”
Thereupon he said, “She has told this silk-cotton tree that, when we go there, he must pluck off branches and beat us. Therefore all of you cut sticks and throw them against this silk-cotton tree.”
They cut the sticks and threw them against the silk-cotton tree. Pim! Pen! pim! pen was the sound they made. The silk-cotton tree supposed that the children had came. He took off eleven of his branches and let them fall to the ground. Little Number Eleven said, “You have seen-had we gone on there, the silk-cotton tree would have killed us.”
They picked up the pumpkins and took them to their mother. She cooked them. And at once the children had eaten all! Their mother said, “Ah! as for this matter, I cannot bear it! I shall take these children and give them to the skygod.”
The next morning, when things became visible, she went and told the skygod all about it, saying, “The children to whom I have given birth eat so fast and so much that when I wish to eat, I can’t get anything. Hunger is killing me. Therefore, I implore you, let the children be brought and killed, so that I may get something to eat.”
The sky-god said, “Is that really the case?”
The woman said, “I am speaking with a head, the inside of which is white.”
So the sky-god picked out messengers, and they went and dug a large pit in which they placed broken bottles. The sky-god himself went and fetched a snake and a leopard, put them in the pit, and covered it over. And now the messenger went to call the children.
No sooner did they reach the place where the pit lay, than Number Eleven said, “Number One, stand still; Number Two, stand still; Number Three, stand still; Number Four, stand still; Number Five, stand still; Number Six stand still; Number Seven, stand still, Number Eight, stand still, Number Nine, stand still; Number Ten, stand still; and I myself, little Number Eleven, I have stood still. You must pass here, but you must not pass there.”
His brothers said, “Why, when a wide path lies there, must we pass through the bush?”
Now as they were going along, they all carried clubs. Number Eleven said, “Throw one of these clubs upon the path.” They threw a club upon the path, and it fell through into the pit. Yirdi was the sound of its fall. Number Eleven said, “There you are! You see! Had we passed there, we should all of use have died.”
So they took a by-path and went off to meet the sky-god. The sky-god has caused holes to be dug, covered over, and stools placed upon them, so that when the children came to sit on them, they would fall into the holes. Soon the children arrived before the face of the sky-god. He spoke to them; “Stools are set there. You may go and be seated upon them.”
Then number eleven said, “Who are we that we should be able to sit upon such beautiful stools? So, sire, we are going to sit aside here.”
Thereupon the sky-god gazed at the children and he said to himself, “I shall send these children to Death’s village.
The next morning, when things became visible, he called the children and said, “You must go to Death who lives yonder and receive from her a golden pipe, a golden chewing-stick, a golden snuffbox, a golden whetstone, and a golden fly-switch.
Number Eleven said, “You are our master, wherever you will send us, we shall go.”
The sky-god said, “Be off!”
So the children set out for Death’s village. When they arrived there, Death said, “Why, when no one must ever come here, have you come here?”
They replied, “We were roaming about and came here quite by chance.” Death said, “Oh all right then.”
Now Death had ten ‘children. With herself added, they made eleven. When things began to disappear – that is, when it became dark – Death divided up the children one by one and gave one to each of her children, while she herself and Number Eleven went to rest. When it was dark, Death then lit up her teeth until they shone red so that she might seize Number Eleven with them.
Number Eleven said, “Death, I am not yet asleep.” Death said, “When will you be asleep?”
Number Eleven said, “If you were to give me a golden pipe to smoke for a while, then I might fall asleep.”
And Death fetched it for him.
A little while later, Death again lit up her teeth in order to go and seize Number Eleven with them.
Number Eleven said, “If you were to bring me a golden snuffbox, I might to go sleep.”
And Death brought it to him.
Again, soon afterward, Death was going to seize Number Eleven. Number Eleven said, “I am not yet asleep.” Death said, “When will you be asleep?”
Number Eleven said, “If you were to go and fetch a golden chewing-stick for me so that I might chew it for a while, then I might fall asleep.”
Death fetched it for him. A short time passed, and Death was about to seize him.
Number Eleven said, “Grandmother, I am not yet asleep.” And Death said, “Then when will you be asleep?”
Number Eleven said, “Grandmother, if you were to go and bring me a golden whetstone, then I might sleep.”
And Death went and brought. Again, soon afterward, Death rose up once more.
Number Eleven said, “Oh, Grandmother, I said I was not yet asleep?” Death said, “And what will be the day when you will be asleep?”
Number Eleven said, “If you were to go and take a calabash full of holes and go and splash water in it and boil some food for me to eat, then I might sleep.”
Death lifted up a strainer and went off to the stream. when she splashed the water into it, the holes in the strainer let it pass through. Now Number eleven said to his brothers, “Rise up and flee away.” Then they rose up and fled, and Number eleven went and cut plantain stems and placed them where his brothers and lain and took cloths and covered them over.
Now Death was at the stream splashing water. And Male Death called to Female Death saying, “Ho there, Death.”
She replied, “Adwo.”
He said, “What are you doing?”
She replied, “Alas, is it not some small child whom I have got? When I am about to catch him, he says, “I am not yet asleep.” He has taken all my things, and now he said I must take a strainer and splash water.”
Male Death said, “Ah, are you a small child? If you pluck leaves and line the inside of the strainer and then splash water, would it not be all right?”
Female Death said, “Oh, how true!”
She plucked leaves, placed them inside, and splashed the water and went off. Number Eleven said, “Death, you have come already? Boil the food.” Death cooked the food; she lit up her teeth in order to kill Number Eleven’s brothers and cook them for food. When she went, she did not examine them carefully, and she herself killed all her own ten children.
The next day, very early, when things became visible, Death rose up and sat there by the fire. Number Eleven said, “Grandmother, a tsetse fly is sitting on your breast.”
Death said, “Fetch the fly-switch which is lying there and kill it for me.”
Number Eleven said, “Good gracious me! A person of your consequence when a tsetse fly settles on you and golden fly-switch lies there – you would this old thing! Let me fetch the golden fly-switch and come and kill it.”
Death said, “Go and fetch it from the room.”
Number Eleven went and brought it. He purposely drove the fly away; he didn’t kill it. Number Eleven said, “Oh, today, where this tsetse fly will rest, there shall I rest with him.”
Then Number Eleven went to the room and took his bag in which lay the golden pipe and all the things. He said, “Grandmother Death, nothing will suffice save that I get the tsetse fly, put it in this bag, and bring it to you.
Number Eleven set off- yiridi! yiridi! yiridi! and Death, too, went to chase
As Number Eleven was going, he overtook his brothers who were sitting on the path. They were making a bird trap. Number Eleven said, “Have you not gone yet? Death is coming, so let us find some way to escape.”
Now Death came upon them. Number eleven took medicine and poured it on his brothers, and they went on top of a silk-cotton tree. And Death stood at the foot of the silk-cotton tree. She said, “Just now I saw those children, and where have they gone?”
Number Eleven was sitting above. He said to his brothers, “I am going to make water upon her.”
His brothers said, “E! she is seeking us to catch us, and we have fled and come and sit here and yet you say, “I am going to make water upon her.”
Number Eleven would not listen, and he made water over Death.
Death said, “Ah, there you are! Today you have seen trouble.” Death said, “You, child, who are sitting up there, kyere-he-ne, kyere-he-ne!” There upon one of the children fell down. “Kyere-he-ne!” a second one fell down. Soon there only remained Number Eleven.
Death said, “Child, kyere-he-ne!” and Number Eleven leaped and descended on the ground, kirim! And Death then went on top of the silk-cotton tree.
Number Eleven said, “You, great big woman, you to, Kyere-he-ne!” and Death, also, came down, tum! She was dead.
Number Eleven went and plucked medicine, rolled between his palms and sprinkled it on his brothers, and they rose up. Number Eleven was going to throw the medicine away, when some of it dripped on Death, and Death awoke. She said, “You have killed me, and you have also awakened me. Today you and I will have a chase.”
Then they all started to run off at once, kiiri! kiri! kiri!. Now Death was chasing them. As they were going, there lay before them a big river in flood. When Number Eleven and his brothers reached it, the brothers knew how to swim and they swam across. Number Eleven alone did not know how to swim. The children stood on the other side; they cried and cried and cried; their mouths became swollen up. As for Number Eleven, he turned into a stone.
Death reached the river. She said, “Oh, these children! You stand there! Let me get a stone to throw and hit your swollen mouths.” Death, when she looked down, saw a stone lying there. She picked it up and threw it. As the stone was traveling, it said, “Winds take me and set me on the other side.” It alighted on the other side. Number Eleven said, “Here I am.”
Death said, “Ah, that child! I have no further matter to talk to you about. All I have to say to you is this “Go and remain at home and change into one of the lesser gods, and, if anyone whom I wish to take comes to where you are, do you inform me. If I so desire, I will leave him and make you a present of him; but that I wish in exchange you must receive it for me.”
This is how the Abosom, the lesser gods, came into the world. They are descended from the small child Number Eleven.
THE ORIGIN OF DEATH
Long, long ago there was a great famine in the world, and a certain young man, while wondering in search of food, strayed into a part of the bush where he had never been before. Presently he perceived a strange mass lying on the ground. He approached and saw that it was the body of a giant whose hair resembled that of white men in that it was silky rather than woolly. It was of an incredible length and stretched as far as from Krachi to Salaga. The young man was properly awed at the spectacle, and wished to withdraw, but the giant, noticing him asked what he wanted.
The young man told about the famine and begged the giant to give him some food. The latter agreed on condition that the youth would serve him for a while. This matter having been arranged, the giant said that his name was Owou, or Death, and he then gave the boy some meat.
Never before had the lad tasted such fine food, and he was well pleased with his bargain. He served his master for a long time and received plenty of meat, but one day he grew homesick, and he begged his master to give him a short vacation. The latter agreed, if the youth would promise to bring another boy in his place. So the youth returned to his village and there persuaded his brother to go with him into the bush, and he gave him to Owuo.
In course of time the youth became hungry again and longed for the meat which Owuo had taught him to like so much. One day he made up his mind to return to his master, and, leaving the village, he made his way back to the giant’s abode. The latter asked him what he wanted, and when the youth told him that he wanted to taste once more of the good meat, the giant bade him enter the hut and take as much as he liked, but added that he would have to work for him again.
The youth agreed and entered the hut. He ate as much as he could and went to work at the task which his master set him. The work continued for a long time and the boy ate his fill every day. But, to his surprise, he never saw anything of this brother, and, whenever he asked about him, the giant told him that the lad was away on business.
Once more the youth grew homesick and asked for leave to return to his village. The giant agreed on condition that he would bring a girl for him, Owuo, to wed. So the youth went home and there persuaded his sister to go into the bush and marry the giant. The girl agreed, and took with her a slave companion, and they all retired to the giant’s abode. There the youth left the two girls an went back to the village.
It was not very long after that he again grew hungry and longed for a taste of the meat. So he made his way once more into the bush and found the giant. The latter did not seem overpleased to see the boy and grumbled at being bothered a third time. However, he told the boy to go into the inner chamber of his hut and take what he wanted. The youth did so and took up a bone which he began to devour. To his horror he recognized it at once as being the bone of his sister. He looked around at all the rest of the meat and saw that it was that of his sister and her slave girl.
Thoroughly frightened, he escaped from the house and ran back to the village. There he told the elders what he had done and the awful thing he had seen. At once the alarm was sounded and all the people went out into the bush to see for themselves the dreadful thing they had heard about. When they drew near to the giant they grew afraid at the sight of so evil a monster. They went back to the village and consulted among themselves what they had best to do. At last it was agreed to go to Salaga, where the end of the giant’s hair was, and set a light to it. This was done, and when the hair was burning well they returned to the bush and watched the giant.
Presently the latter began to toss about and to sweat. It was quite evident that he was beginning to feel the heat. The nearer the flames advanced, the more he tossed and grumbled. At last the fire reached his head and for the moment the giant was dead.
The villagers approached him cautiously, and the young man noticed magic powder which had been concealed in the roots of the giant’s hair. He took it and called the others to come and see what he had found. No one could say what powder this medicine might have, but an old man suggested that no harm would be done if they sprinkled some of it on the bones and meat in the hut. This idea was carried out, and to the surprise of everyone, the girls and the boy at once returned to life.
The youth, who had still some of the powder left, proposed to put it on the giant. But at this there was a great uproar as the people feared Owuo might come to life again. The boy therefore, by way of compromise, sprinkled it into the eye of the dead giant. At once they eye opened and the people fled in terror. But alas, it is from that eye that death comes, for every time that Owuo shuts that eye a man dies, and, unfortunately for us, he is forever blinking and winking.
HOW DISEASES CAME TO THE ASHANTI
Now there lived Kwaku Ananse, the spider, and he went to Nyankonpon, the sky-god, and said, “Grandsire, take your sheep called Kra Kwame, the one which you keep to sacrifice to your soul on a Saturday, and let me kill and eat it, that I may go and bring you a beautiful girl in charge.”
The sky-god gave him the sheep, and Ananse set out and returned to his village and killed the sheep and ate it. The spider then went to a certain village. In that village there was not a single male-all were women. Ananse married them all and they lived there.
One day, a hunter came and saw them. When he left, he went and said to the sky-god, “As for Ananse and that sheep of yours which he received, he has killed it and given it to some woman to eat then married them.
The sky-god said, “Is it true?”
The hunter said, “Grandsire, it is the truth.”
The sky-god then sent messengers, telling them to go to the village and bring to him the entire woman who was there.
The messengers went off, met the women, and, with the exception of one woman who was ill, took them all to the sky-god.
Ananse said, “You who remain, what can I do with you? You can’t do anything for me?”
The sick woman said, “Go and bring me a gourd cup, Ananse went and brought a gourd cup.
She said, “Bathe me, and take the water that you have used and pour it into this gourd.”
Ananse bathed her body and poured the water he had used into the gourd. She then became very beautiful; there was no woman like her in the tribe. Then Ananse married her again, although she was already his.
Now the hunter came again, and he saw this woman. He went off and reported to the sky-god, saying, “Ananse had made a fool of you, he sent you the ugly woman and has kept the beautiful one for himself.”
The sky-god sent messengers and directed them t go to the village where the spider was and to bring the woman to him.
They delivered the message of the sky-god to Ananse. He said, “Would he not like me to come also?’
The messenger said, “The sky-god said we must take the woman to him.” Ananse said, “That is she sitting there, take her way.”
After she had been tan, Ananse went and got the gourd into which all the diseases he had taken form the woman had been poured, and he stretched a skin over the mouth of it. Then he stretched a skin over another gourd and gave it to his child, Ntikuma, and Ananse beat on the drum he had made and sang:
“Y’dende dende den, Y’odende den.
Y’odende dende den, Y’odende den
Your eyes are red in vain! Y’odende dende den,
You are badly armed! Y’odente dente den,
Is that Aso Ya? Y’odente dente den, Y’odente den.
You are knock -kneed!
Y’odente dente den,
Your nose is a lump on your face! Y’odente dente den,
Y’odente den Your feet are large as paddles, like those of a slave! Y’odente dente den Y’odente den! Your head is like a cow! Y’odente dente den Y’odente den!Ntikuma drummed and sang: “Beautiful maiden, ”Beautiful maiden!”
And Afudotwedotwe or Belly-Like-to Burst and Nyiwankonfwea or ThinShanks, Ananse’s children danced. Anene, the crow, ran with speed and told the sky-god, “Ananse has a dance which is fitting for you but not for a spider.”
Immediately the sky-god sent messengers there to Ananse to go and bring him this dance.
Ananse said, “This dance of mine, we perform it only in the harem, and if the sky-god agrees then shall I bring it along.
The messengers returned and told the sky-god. The sky-god said, “That is nothing, let him bring it to the harem.” Ananse went with the drums to the harem, and the sky-god came and danced, and all his wives danced.
Now, there remained the one who had been sick. When she saw that Ananse had stretched a skin over the gourd in which were all her diseases, because of that she said she would not dance. And now the sky-god forced her and she came; and when she was about to dance, Ananse lifted up the gourd and struck the woman with it, and the diseases scattered with a sound like tese!
That is how syphilis, stomach-ache, headache, leprosy, Guinea worm, smallpox, yaws, fits, diabetes and madness came among the tribe. Once there was no sickness among mankind. It was the sky-god who was the cause of Ananse’s bringing diseases among the tribe.
WHY THERE ARE CRACKS IN TORTOISE’S SHELL
Mr. Tortoise, who was married to Mrs. Tortoise, has in Vulture a friend who was constant in visiting him, But, having no wings, Tortoise was unable to return the visits, and this upset him. One day he bethought himself os his cunning and said to his wife, “Wife!”
Mrs. Tortoise answered, “Hello, husband! What is it?”
Said he, “Don’t you see, wife, that we are becoming despicalbe in Vulture’s eyes?”
“Despicable, because it is despicable for me not to visit Vulture. He is always comng here and I have never yet been to his hiuse–and he is my friend.”
Mrs. Tortoise replied, “I don”t see how Vulture should thins us despicable unless we could fly as he does and then did not pay him a visit.”
But Mr. Tortoise persisted: “Nevertheless, wife, it is despicable.”
Said his wife, “Very well, then, sprout some wings and fly and visit your friend Vulture.”
Mr. Tortoise answered, “No, I shan’t sprout any wings because I was not born that way.”
“Well,” said Mrs. Tortoise, “what will you do?”
“I shall find a way,” he replied.
“Find it then,” said Mrs. Tortoise, “and let us see what you will do.”
Later Tortoise said to his wife, “Come and tie me up in a parcel with a lump of tobacco and, when Vulture arives, give it tohim and say that it is tobacco to buy grain for us.” So Mrs. Tortoise took some palm leaf and made him into a parcel and put him down in the corner.
At his usual time, Vulture came to pay his visit and said, “where’s your husband gone, Mrs. Tortoise?”
My husband has gone some distance to visit some people, and he left hunger here. We have not a bit of grain in the house.”
Vulture said, “You are in trouble indeed, not having any grain.”
Mr. Tortoise replied, “We are in such trouble as human beings never knew.” And she went on” Vulture, at your place is there no grain to be bought?”
“Yes,” said he, “any amount. Mrs. Tortoise.”
She bought the bundle and said, :My husband left this lump of, tobacco thinking you would buy some grain with it for us and bring it here.:
Vulture willingly took it and returned to him home in the heights. As he was nearing his native town he was surprised to hear a voice saying, “Untie me, I am your friend Tortoise. I said I would pay a visit to you.”
But Vulture, in his surprise, let go his hold of the bundle and down crashed Tortoise to the earth, pididi-pididi, his shell smashed to bits and he died. And so the friendship between Tortoise and Vulture was broken; and you can still see the cracks in Tortoise’s shell.
Why It Is That the Elders Say We Should Not Repeat Sleeping Mat Confidences
They say that once upon a time Nyankonpon Kwame, the sky-god, cleared a very large plantation and planted orkas, onions, beans, garden-eggs, peppers, and pumpkins. The weeds in the garden became thick and nettles grew up. The sky-god then made a proclamation by odawuro to the effect that his plantation was overgrown wth weeds and that anyone who could weed it without scratching himself might come forward and take his daughter, Abena Nkroma, in marriage. The first one who went to try scratched himself where the nettles tickled, and they hooted at him. The next one who tried was also hooted at. All men went and tried and all failed.
Now Kwaku Ananse, the spider, said.” As for me, I am able to do it.” The sky-god’s plantation was situated on the side of the path, and that path was the one people used to take when going to the market every Friday. The spider, because he knew this fact, used only to go and clear the weeds every Friday. When he was hoeing, the people who passed by used to greet him, saying, “Hail to ou at your work, Father Spider!”
Then he would answer, “Thank you, Aku.” They would continue, “As plantation which no one has been able to clear–do you mean to say you are weeding it?”
The spider would answer, “Ah, it’s all because of one girl that I am wearing myself out like this. Her single arm is like this,” And he would then slap and rub his arm where it was ticking him, and when he did so, he would get relief from the irritation. Then another person would pass there and hail him at his work, and he would again slap the place that was itching. For example, if it was his thigh, he would say, “That single girl! They say her thigh is like this, ” and he would slap and rub his own thigh.In this manner he finished clearing the plantation. Then he went off to tell the sky-god how he had finished the weeding of his farm. The sky-god asked the messenger, “Has he really finished?”
The messenger said, “Yes.”
The sky-god asked him, “Did he scratch himself?”
He said, “No, he did not scratch himself.”
Then the sky-god took Abena Nkroma and gave her to Ananse in mariage.
One night Ananse and his bride went to rest and the bride questioned him sayng, “However was it that you of all people were able to clear father’s plantation of weeds? A plantation like that-from which everyone who tried turned back! However were you able to clear it?”
Then the spider said, “Do you suppose that I am a fool? I used to hoe, and when anyone passed by and said to me, ‘Ananse, are you clearing this farm which on one else has ever been able to clear?” I would thereupon slap with my hand any place on my skin that was tickling me and scratch it, and declare to the person that your thigh, for example, was like the thigh of a buffalo, and that it was beautiful and polished. That is how it came about that I was able to weed the plantation.”
Thereupon Abena, the ningh child said, “Then tomorrow I shall tell father that you scratched yourself after all.”
But the spider spoke to her sayng, “You must not mention it. This is a sleeping-mat confidence.”
Abena, the ninth child, said, “I know nothing whatever abut sleeping-mat confidences, and I shall tell my father.” Abena Nkroma took her sleeping-mat away from beside Ananse and went and lay down at the other end of the room.
Now Ananse’s eyes grew red and sorrowful, and he went and took his sepirewa, and he struck the strings and sang:
“Abena, the ningh child, this is not a matter about which to quarrel.
Let us treat it as a sleeping-mat confidence. `No! she says. She had a case against me, But some one else has a case which is already walking down the path.”
Then the spider went and lay down. After Ananse had lain there for some time, he rose up again. He said “Abena Nkroma.” Not a sound save the noise of the cicada chirping dinn! Ananse said, “I’ve got you.”
He took a little gourd cup and splashed it full with water and poured it over Abena Nkroma’s sleeping-mat. Then Ananse went and lay down. After he had lain there a while, he said, “Ko! Abena Nkroma, whatever is this! You have wet the sleeping-mat, you shameless creature! Surely you are not at all nice. When things become visible, I shall tell everyone. It was true then- what they all said-that when anyone went to your father’s plantation, he would say, ‘A girl who wets…! I am not going to clear a nettle plantation for such a person.”‘
Then Avena said to him “I implore you, desist, and let the matter drop.” But the spider said, “I will not leave it, for my case came first. You said you would tell your father, I said, ‘Desist’; but you said, ‘No’ Because of that I will not drop the case.”
And Abena, the ninth child, said, “Leave my case, and your case, too, about which I spoke, I shall drop it, for if you do not leave mine, my eyes will die for shame.”
Then Ananse said, “I have heard. Since you so desire, let it be a sleeping-mat confidence. So the matter ends there.”
That is how the elders came to say, “Sleeping-mat confidences are not to be repeated.”
ANNANCY AND BROTHER TIGER
One day Annancy an’ Bro’er Tiger go a river fe wash’kin. Annancy said to Bro’er Tiger:- “Bro’er Tiger, as you are such a big man, if you go in a de blue hole with your fat you a go drownded, so you fe take out your fat so lef it here.”
Tiger said to Bro’er Annancy:- “You must take out fe you too.” Annancy say”- “You take out first, an’ me me take out after.” Tiger first take out.
Annancy say:”Go in a hole, Bro’er Tiger, an’ mkae me see how you swim light.”
Bro’er Annancy never go in.
As tiger was paying attention to the swimming, Annancy take up his fac an’ eat it.
Then Annancy was so frightened for Tiger, he leaves the river side an’ go to Big Monkey town.
Him say:-”Bro’er Monkey, I hear them shing a shing a rive side say:
Yeshterday this time me a nyam Tiger fat, Yeshterday time me anyam Tiger fat, Yeshterday this time me nuyam Tiger fat.
The Big Monkey drive him away, say they don’t want to hear no song. So him leave and go to Little Monkdy town, an’ when him go him said:”Bro’er Monkey, I hear one shweet song a river side:
“Yeshterday this time me a nyam Tiger fat. Yeshterday this time me a nyam Tiger fat.”
Then Monkey say:-”You must sing the song, make we hear.” Then Annancy commence to sing.
Monkey love the song so much that they made a ball a night an’ have the same song playing.
So when Annancy hear the song was playing, he was glad to go back to Bro’er Tiger.
When him to to the river, he saw Tiger was looking for his fat.
Tiger said:-”Bro’er Annancy, I can’t find me fat at all.” Annancy say:- “Ha ha! Biddybye I hear them shing a Little Monkey town say:
Yeshterday this time me a nyam Tiger fat. Yeshterday this time me a nyam Tiger fat.
Bro’er Tiger, if you think I lie, come make we go a Little Monkey Town.” So he and Tiger wented.
When them get to the place, Anancy tell Tiger they must hide in a bush. Then the Monkey was dancing an’ playing the same tune. Tiger hear.
Then Annancy say:- “Bro’er Tiger wha’ me tell you?
You no yerry me tell you say them a call you name up ya?” An’ the Monkey never cease with the tune:
Yesterday this time me a nyam Tiger fat. Yesterday this time me a nyam Tiger fat.
Then Tiger go in the ball an’ ask Monkey them for his fat.
The Monkey say they don’t know nothing name so, ’tis Mr. Annancy I’arn them the song.
So Tiger could manage the Little Moneky them, an’ he want fe fight them.
So the Little Monkey send away a bearer to Big Monkey town, an’ bring down a lots of soldiers, an’ flog Bro’er Tiger an’ Annancy.
So Bro’er Tiger have fe take bush an’ Annancy run up a house-top.
From that, Tiger live in the wood until now, an’ Annancy in the house-top. From that, Tiger live in the wood until now, an’ Annancy in the house-top.
Jack Mantore me no choose any.
Go a river fe wash’kin, go to the river to wash their skins. Pronounce fe like fit without the t.
in a de, into the
A go drowned, will be drowned
fe take, short for must have fe take, must take so lef, and leave
fe you, for you, yours
me me, I will. Annancy is fond of these reduplicatoins. in a hole, in the hole.
make me see, let me see. Make and let are always confused.
frighten, frightened. Past participles are seldom used.
take, eat, leave, go, takes, eats, leaves, goes. This shortening is always adopted. If a final s is used, it is generaly in the wrong place.
shing a shing, sing a song. Annancy’s lisp will not always be
printed, but in reading, it should be put in even when not indicated.
a river side, at the river’s side. The v is pronounced more like a b, and the I in river has the sound of French u.
me a nyam, I was eating, I ate. Nyam is one of the few African words which survive in Jamaica.
make me hear, and let us hear it.
have the same song playing; the past participle again avoided, and its place supplied by the present participle. Song and Tune are interchangeable.
Brother Annancy and Brother Death
One day Brother Annancy sen’ gal Annancy fe to a Brother Deat’ yard fe go beg fire.
When the gal go, him go meet Brother Deat’ dis a eat fe him breakfas’ enough eggs. Brother Deat’ give gal Annancy one. Gal annancy take the eff an’, after eat done, put the shell’pon him finger.
Brother Annancy wait an’ wait but can’t get the fire till at last he see the gal a come.
When him see the gal with egg shell ‘pon him finger, him run an’ bit off the gal finger slap to the hand. Him take ‘way the fire, out it, an go back to Deat’ say:- “Bro’er Deat’, de fire out.”
Brother Deat’ give him fire an’ one egg, tell him fe go home. “Say, Bro’er Deat;, I goin’ to give you me daughter fe marry to.”
So Annancy do marry of Deat’ an’ him daughter the same day. So him lef them gone for a week, then come back again fe come see him son-in-law.
When him come him say:-”Bro’er Deat;, me son, me hungry.”
Brother Deat’ no ‘peak.
So Annancy begin fe talk to himself: “Bro’er Deat’ say me fe go make up fire, but no mo so me no yerry.”
After five minutes him call out:- “Bro’er Deat’, me make up de fire.” Deat’ no ‘peak.
“Bro’er Deat’ say me fe wash de pot, but no mo so me no yerry.
When the pot wash done, him call out:- “Pot wash.”
Deat’ no ‘peak.
“Bro’er Deat’ say me fe to put him on , but no mo so me no yerry.”
Soon him say:- “Bro’er Deat;, where de vittle?” Deat’ no ‘peak.
“Him say me fe look somehwhe’ de me see enough yam, me fe peel dem put dem a fire, but no mo so me no yerry.”
Annancy cook all Deat’ food.
When it boil, him take it off, Him sayL- “Bro’er Deat’, him boil.”
Deat’ no ‘peak.
“Bro’er Deat’ say him no want more, but nomo so me no yerry.
So Annancy eat off all the food him one.
Then Deat’ get vex in a him heart, and run into the kitchen.
“Bro’er Annancy a whe’ you mean fe do me, say a come you come fe kill
So Deat’ catch Annancy an’ say:- “Me no a go let you go again, no use, no use.”
Then, after, Deat’ carry Annancy in a him house an’ leave him, gone to get his lance to kill him.
So, after Annancy sit a time an’ about to go away, him say:- “Bro’er Deat’ say me fe to take piece a meat, but no mo so me no yerry.”
When Annancy to to the meat cask, him see the cask full with meat. Him take out two big piece of meat. Then he see fe him daughter hand with the missing finger. Him jump out of the house an’ bawl out:- “Bro’er Deat’, you b’ute, you b’ute, you kill be daughter.”
Deat’ catch him again an’ was going to kill him, but the feller get ‘way, run hime a fe him yard.
Brother Deat’ follow him when him go home.
Annancy take all him children an’ go up a house-top, go hand up on the rafter. Brother Deat’ come in a de house, see them up a de house-top.
Anancy say to his family-there was two boy an’ the mumma- “Bear up! If you drop de man a dirty de’ a go nyam you.”
Here come one of the boy say:- “Puppa, me han’ tired.” Annancy say:- “Bear up!”
The boy cry out fe de better.
Annancy say”- “Drop, you b’ute! No see you dada a dirty de’?” Him drop.
Deat’ take him and put him aside.
Five minutes the other one say:- “Pu[a, me han’ tired.”
Annancy say again:- “Drop, you b’ute! No see you dada a dirty de’?” Him drop
Deat’ take him an’ put him aside.
Soon the wife get tired, say:- “Me husban’, me han’ tired.” Annancy say:- “Bear up, me good wife!”
When she cry she couldn’ bear no more, Annancy bawl again:- “Drop you b’ute! No see you husban’ a dirty de’?”
Deat’ take her.
At last Annancy get tired. Das de man, Bro’er Deat’ been want. Annancy was so smart, no want fe Deat’ catch him, so he say:- “Bro’er Deat’, I goin’ to
drop, an bein’ me so fat, if you no want me fat fe waste, go and fetch somet’ing fe catch me.”
“What me can take fe catch you?”
“Go in a room you will see a barrell of flour an’ you fe take it so fe me drop
Deat’ never know that this flour was temper lime.
Deat’ bring the barrel) an’ just as he fixing it up under where Annancy hanging, Annancy drop on Deat’ head PUM, an jam him head in a the temper lime an’ blind him. So he an’ all him family get ‘way.
dis a eat, just as he had eaten
no mo so me no yerry, I must have failed to hear
Deat’ no `peak, Death won’t speak. The comedy is well sustained.
Annancy goes through the various stages of preparation for breakfast, pretending that he is carrying out orders from Death which he fails to hear.
put him on, put the pot on the fire
somewhe’ de’, somewhere there. The e’s are like French ‘e, and de’ I s said with a strong accent and made very short
enough yam, plenty of yams
say a come you come, say do you come
me no a go etc., I am not going to let you go again
no use, no mistake about it this time
bawl, Remember to pronounce bahl
b’ute, brute, pronounced byute like the Island Bute a fe him yard, to his yard
a dirty de’, etc., on the ground there will eat you
fe de better, all the more
Das, that’s temper lime,
tempered lime originally no doubt, but now meaning quick lime. Temper, I am toldm, means cross. And in further explanation my informant adds: “You can’t fingle (finger) temper lime as you have a ming; it cut up your hand.”
pum with the shortest possible vowel represents the thud of Annancy’s fall upon Death’s head.
The Kitchen is outside the house, often as a considerable distance from
TOAD AND DONKEY
One day a King made a race and have Toad and Donkey to be the racer. An’ Toad tell Donkey that him must win the race, an’ Donkey mad when him yerry so. And the race was twenty mile.
An’ Donkey say:- “How can you run me? I have long tail an’ long ear an’ a very tall foot too, an’ you a little bit a Toad. Let me measure foot an’ see which one longer.”
An’ Toad say to Donkey:- “You no mind that man, but I must get the race.”
An’ Donkey get very vex about it.
An’ Donkey say to the King:- “I ready now to start the race.”
An’ the King made a law that Donkey is to bawl at every miles that he might know where he got.
Now that little smart fallah. Toad says to the King that he doesn’t fix up his business yet, an’ will he grant him a little time.
An’ the King made a law that Donkey is to bawl at every miles that he might know where he got.
Now that little smart fallah Toad says to the King that he doesn’t fix up his business yet, an’ wil he grant him a little time.
An’ the King grant him a day, an’ say to the two of them:- “Come again tomorrow.”
An’ Donkey wansn’t agree, for he know that Toad is a very trickified thing. But the King wouldn’ hear, an’ say:- “No, tomorrow.
Now Toad have twenty picny. An’ while Donkey is sleeping, Toad take the twenty picny them along with him on the race-ground, and’ to every milepost Toad leave one of his picny an’ tell them that they must listen for Mr. Djonkey when he is coming. “An’ when you yerry Mat fellah Mr. Donkey bawl, youmust bawl too.” An’ Toad hide one of his picny behind every milepost until him end the twenty mile.
So the race begin.
Donkey was so glad in a him hear that he was going to beat Toad that he say to himself:- “Tche! That little bit a fellah Toad can’t manage me, so I must have plenty of time to eat some grass.”
So him stand by the way, eat grass and poke him head through the fence where he see some potato-slip, an’ try a taste of Gungo peas. An’ he take more than an hour fe catch up the first mile-post, an’ as him get him bawl:
Ha! Ha! Ha! me more than Toad.
An’ there comes the first picny call out:
An’ Donkey quite surprise, an’ say:- “Tche! How him manage to be before
An’ he think:-”Me delay too long with that grass, I must quicker next mile.”
An’ him set off with a better speed an’ only stop a minute for a drink of water. An’ as him get to the next post him bawl: