by Michael Auld
Once in a before time, Anansi was walking far
into the bush. Soon he came to a house with a
very, very, VERY old man sitting inside the mouth
of the front door. The old man looked like skin
and dry bones. Anansi gathered up his courage
"Good day sir! I have been walking all morning
and would love to have a cool drink of ice water."
However, the old man said nothing.
Anansi, who thought that the old man might have been deaf, walked closer to the seated figure and repeated in a
" I said... GOOD MORNING SIR! MAY I HAVE A DRINK OF WATER?”
Nevertheless, the old man said nothing.
Anansi scratched his head and said, "Oh, you said to go inside the house and help myself?"
The old man still said nothing to Anansi.
Anansi walked past the old man and went into his house and not only helped himself to ice cold water but to as much
food as he could eat. When he had finished eating, Anansi went outside to see the old man who was sitting in the
same spot by the door. Anansi thanked him for his hospitality and returned home.
The next day Anansi went to the house of the old man and again ate his fill. Still, the old man said nothing to Anansi.
On the third day, Anansi the spider brought his eldest daughter to the old man’s house.
"Good morning sir,” Anansi greeted. “Since you have been so
kind to me I have brought my beautiful daughter who wants to
be a cook. I will give her to you as your wife," said Anansi.
Then he turned to his daughter. "Here is a wedding ring. Now
go into the house and fix your father a nice plate of food."
The old man still said nothing.
The next day Anansi got up early. He headed for the old man's
house. The old man had not moved and was still sitting by his
door. Anansi said his good morning and entered the house.
He called for his daughter but she did not answer. He knew
that she liked Hide-and-Seek so he looked in every closet. He
then checked under the bed. Although he knew that it was a
dangerous hiding place, he looked into the icebox, but he
could not find her. Anansi searched all over the house but he
was not able to find his daughter.
He thought of one place that he had not looked.
"I know where she is. She is hiding in the oven! " He said as he
opened the door to the stove's oven. Anansi jumped back. For
in the oven lay his daughter's wedding ring. Anansi rushed outside the
house and grabbed the old man by the collar.
“Where is my daughter?" he shouted.
Finally, the old man spoke in a deep raspy voice. “Do… you …know… who… I… am?” He said slowly, chewing on
every word that escaped his throat.
“Yes.” Anansi said. “You are my son-in-law.”
"Hah! Your son-in-law!” The old man rasped. “My name is Death and you came looking for me. I did not invite you
into my house. To add insult to injury, you brought me your ugly daughter... so I ate her. Now I am going to have you
for lunch," Brother Death said as he grabbed Anansi by the shirt.
Anansi tore the buttons from his shirt, slipped out of it and ran for his life. He ran as fast as he could in the belief that
he could easily outdistance an old man like Brother Death. However, wherever Anansi turned, Death was right behind
him. Finally, out of desperation, Anansi lunged for a tree limb and climbed as high as he could. To his surprise,
Brother Death did not follow Anansi up the tree. Death could not climb!
Brother Death picked up a rock, an old shoe, anything that he could find, and threw them at Anansi. They all missed.
Death could not throw either. He soon ran out of things to throw. Therefore, he ran around under the tree in search
of any missile. Once when he took his eyes off Anansi, the frightened spider jumped off the tree and bolted for his
As he neared his house Anansi shouted out to his wife.
"Aso! Grab the children and climb up into the ceiling! Death is after me!"
"What did you say, Anansi?" His wife asked.
" I SAID... GRAB THE CHILDREN AND CLIMB UP TO THE CEILING!" Anansi cried.
“You said do what with the potato peelings?” His wife asked.
“I said… Oh, Never mind!” Anansi cried in frustration.
He quickly rushed into his house, grabbed his wife and children, and climbed up into the ceiling with them.
“Grab hold of a wooden beam and hold on tight!” He shouted.
As Brother Death rushed in the door, Anansi and his family were safely clinging to a beam in the ceiling. Brother
Death calmly picked up a burlap bag, pulled up a chair, sat down under the dangling spider family and crossed his
Half an hour passed and Anansi's youngest son said to his father.
"Oh, Puppa, my hands are hurting me. I can't hold on any longer."
"Hold on son, for if you fall Death is going to get you," Anansi said to his child. However, the boy could not hold on
any longer. Therefore, he fell.
Death caught the boy and opened the burlap bag. "It is your father I want… not you.” Then he placed the child into
the burlap bag.
Soon, another of Anansi's daughters cried out to her father.
"Puppa, please…my hands are tired. I am going to fall".
"Fall and Death is going to get you!" Anansi answered.
His daughter fell and Death placed her in the burlap bag with her brother.
"I don't want you. I want your father,” said Death.
Soon Anansi's other daughter and son fell. So did his wife, Aso. Finally, Anansi's own hands became tired. First, the
left hand froze and lost its grip. However, Anansi held on tight with only his right hand. He exercised the frozen left
hand in the hope of using it to relieve the right hand. Anansi’s mind began to race.
"Brother Death.” He called. “I am so fat from eating all your food that if I fall I will just splatter into pieces. There will not
be enough of me left to put in that bag. You will only have enough meat to make spider-burgers. However, if you go
into the kitchen you will find a barrel of flour. Get the barrel and set it under me so that the flour will cushion the fall. I
won’t splatter. I will just be battered.”
“Mmmhh…” Death exhaled, rubbed his chin and smiled, showing all his 37-and-a-half teeth. “Kentucky Fried Spider
for dinner, heh? Or, maybe I can make delicious, spicy Jerk Spider from Anansi and his family!”
Anansi figured that the flour barrel was so heavy that it would take four men to lift it. This would give him time to
escape. As Brother Death went into the kitchen Anansi was about to let go and drop from the ceiling. However, in a
flash Death was back under Anansi with the flour barrel. Anansi had underestimated Brother Death’s strength. As
Brother Death wobbled the barrel from side to side, he bent over the barrel to make sure that it was exactly under
Anansi. The cunning spider dropped on top of the old man’s head, dunking his face into the flour. The flour bath
temporarily blinded Death.
Anansi jumped off Death’s head, released his family and they ran for their lives. Death has never caught Anansi the
Spider. That is why there are AnansiStories to this day. When you see spider webs on the ceiling it belongs to
Anansi. He is still trying to get away from Death..
* Author's note: This story illustrates how Anansi, like his father Nyame the Great Sky God, also overcame death. In
Nyame's case he had created both life and death and was overcome by the latter's venom. Where Nyame survived
death by using an antidote, his son, Anansi, used his web to accomplish the same feat.
Copyright 2007 by Michael Auld
...or, " Why Spider's Webs
Are Found On The