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Opinions of Thursday, 4 April 2013

Columnist: Addo, Peter E Adotey

Brer Rabbit and Ananse Stories from Africa

: Looking At Ourselves In Ghana

Rev Peter E Adotey Addo

Here is the final word on that old Brer Rabbit. The Origins Of The Brer Rabbit Stories In The American South

In Africa Ananse, the Spider, is the hero of all folktales. The Spider is a crafty, cantankerous, and wise creature. He is regarded as the one who challenges the creator. One day as the legend goes, Ananse collected all Wisdom from the earth and attempted to hide it on the top of the tallest tree in the forest, thereby depriving all humans of knowledge and wisdom. The Spider, carrying the "Pot of Wisdom," was reminded by his own son how stupid his attempt was. In trying to place the pot behind him Ananse fell and as you can imagine the pot broke and naturally Wisdom was scattered all over the world and so it happened that everybody got a piece of wisdom. Knowledge, we believe in Africa is and should be free for all. Among the Ga Speaking people of Ghana by this simple act the Great Creator who made Wisdom also made it free for all people and no one person has all the Wisdom. Everyone has just a piece of the Knowledge and no one has it all.

Most of the Stories referred to as Brer Rabbit are actually Anasne Stories brought to the Americas by the African American Slaves introduced here Centuries ago. In an attempt to keep their Culture alive in this Strange and forbidden place they found themselves, they tried against all odds to keep alive the few songs and stories about the homeland they would never see again. It was something they could remember and so they held on to the Ananse the Wise Trickster figure they were all familiar with from the Land of their birth.

Here the act of Story Telling was a very important part of their Lives since it was by this Oral Tradition that History was kept alive and transmitted from one generation to another. Secondly all the Ananse Stories ended with Specific Messages, Morals or Advice , Proverbs or a Very Wise Saying. What they had then was an Instrument of transmitting Knowledge, Morals, Ethical Values, and an Instrument of sharing but also Preserving their Common Values in a new Land. Thus the very close similarity between the Ananse Stories of Africa and the Brer Rabbit Stories.

For further Reading.....Check .. How the Spider Became Bald: Folktales and Legends from West Africa by Rev Peter E Adotey Addo at Amazon.com