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Anansi and His Six Sons

This story just doesn't seem to click. The African folk tale is a great story, but what is it doing in a Sunday school class, let alone a worship service? I don't think it really communicates any interesting religious ideas. This one needs work....

Anansi had six sons, and each of his sons had a special talent. Anansi's first son, named "Trouble Seer," could see trouble from far away. The second son, named "Road Builder," could build roads through anything. The third son, named "River Drinker," could make rivers become dry, with not a drop of water in them. The fourth son, named "Animal Skinner," was very good at removing the skins from animals hunted for food. Fifth was "Rock Thrower," who could throw rocks for great distances and with complete accuracy. Finally, there was "Ground Pillow," who could lie on the ground and make it soft, soft.

One day, Anansi left to travel far and wide. He was gone one week, then two weeks, then three weeks, until at last more than a month had gone by, and his sons grew worried.

Trouble Seer, Anansi's first son, looked far and wide. "Do you see him? Do you see him?" asked all his brothers. "Yes," said Trouble Seer. "He feel into a river on the other side of the dark, dense, dangerous jungle."

Upon hearing that, Road Builder, the second son, immediately built a road through the dark, dense, dangerous jungle, and the six brothers traveled along the road until they came to a wide, raging river. River Drinker, the third son, drank and drank and drank until the wide, raging river ran dry. There in the middle of the river lay a huge fish, and they could hear Anansi calling for help inside the fish. Animal Skinner, the fourth son, quickly cut the fish open and released Anansi.

But a huge eagle was hovering overhead watching and waiting, and as soon as Anansi went free, the eagle swooped down grabbed Anansi with its sharp talons, and flew high into the air. When Rock Thrower, the fifth son, saw what the eagle had done, he grabbed a rock from the bottom of the dried-up river and threw it at the eagle, hitting the eagle with such perfect accuracy that it dropped Anansi, who plumetted towards earth from a great height. But Ground Pillow, the sixth and last son, lay directly under Anansi, making the ground soft, soft, so that when Anansi at last hit the ground, he was unhurt.

So it was that the six brothers saved their father, Anansi the spider.

Anansi wanted to reward his six sons. But what could he give them? The next day, he went walking in the forest, and there he found a beautiful, round object that glowed softly. This object was called Moon, and Anansi picked it up and brought it home. What a suitable reward to give to one of his sons for saving his life!

But Anansi could not decide which son had done the most to save his life; he could not decide which son should receive Moon. Anansi called on Nyame, the Sky God, to come down to earth and help him. Anansi gave Moon to Nyame, and told Nyame to give it to whichever of the six sons deserved it most.

Anansi called his six sons. "See what I have found," said Anansi. His six sons looked at Moon and each of them wanted to have Moon for his veery own. Anansi said, "I will give this Moon to whichever of you did the most to save my life."

Trouble Seer said, "Nyame, you must give it to me, for if I had not seen my father, we could not have saved him." Road Builder said, "Nyame, you must give it to me, for if I had not built the road through the jungle, we could not have gotten to my father in time." River Drinker said, "Nyame, you must give it to me, for if I had not emptied the river, we could not have gotten to my father to save him." Animal Skinner said, "Nyame, you must give it to me, for if I had not cut open the big fish, my father would have remained within it." Rock Thrower said, "Nyame, you must give it to me, for if I had not thrown the rock at the eagle, it would have flown off with my father." Ground Pillow said, "Nyame, you must give it to me, for if I had not made the ground soft, my father would have died when he hit the ground."

They argued and squabbled for days and days and days on end, until at last Nyame got sick of listening of them. Nyame went back up into his sky home carrying bright, softly glowing Moon up into the sky with him. And there the Moon has remained to this day.


That's the story of Anansi and the Moon. When this story came from Africa to the island of Haiti, Anansi's six sons became Yoruba gods; and versions of this story came to the United States where Anansi became Brother Rabbit; so you see, it is part of our inheritance from the ancestors. But mostly I like this story because I think it tells us that we should not argue with our brothers and sisters about what we're going to get from our parents. Our parents, and our grandparents, indeed all our ancestors, give us their love and their wisdom, and that's enough for them to give to us.