I have been struggling all day to remember the name of our “houseboy”, it was Spider, Anansi. My dad helped him become a member of the local council, he was of pygmy stock and had migrated from the Congo.
Anansi (/əˈnɑːnsi/ ə-NAHN-see literally mean spider) is an Akan folktale character. He often takes the shape of a spider and is sometimes considered to be a god of all knowledge of stories. Taking the role of trickster, he is also one of the most important characters of West African, African American and Caribbean folklore. Originating in West Africa, these spider tales were transmitted to the Caribbean by way of the transatlantic slave trade. Anansi is most well known for his ability to outsmart and triumph over more powerful opponents through his use of cunning, creativity and wit. Despite taking on the role of the trickster, Anansi’s actions and parables often carry him as protagonist due to his ability to transform his apparent weaknesses into virtues. He is among several West African tricksters including Br’er Rabbit and Leuk Rabbit.
Kombo and Kinyonga
“I see you Kombo
Daughter of the African sunset
That burns its majesty on the land
And paints the end of the day
May your gentle eyes see deep in the darkness of the night.”
“I see you Kinyonga
Son of the African dawn
That wakes the day with the hush of expectancy
And lifts the shadows of the magic night
May your gentle steps and brilliant colour rejoice the day.”
“As we cling to the tree
These changing times
What shall we do?”
“Let’s call Anansi and listen to his tales
For he speaks in many, many ways.”
“Anansi, come and regale us, as the crack between the worlds deepens and the cicadas pluck their violins as the night takes its hold…….”
I tell you a story of a mouse from another land. Harmony was his name and he was born in discord with the spirit of life. He was born in a land of mist and rain, where voices sang to the heavens and the struggle to live marked every soul and the deep memory of the race knew that this had not always been so.
At the splitting of his birth they gave him a collectors sack so that he could piece the notes together and sing, as he was meant to.
As Harmony grew he ran hear and there, all bristling whiskers sniffing the air. They took him across the world to feel the lands where the dreamtime lived and showed him the rainbow serpent’s footsteps on the land; to wake the memory beyond the form and stir the cauldron of his inspiration. They brought him here to show the smoke that thunders and the bushman caves, to mark the river’s crocodile path and teach him lessons for later years. Then he went home. And he forgot.
On a hot summer night in a far off land he heard the spirit knock and watched the majesty of the Blue mountain’s glory dawn.
And he forgot.
Harmony became ill and wanted to die. A mouse is just a mouse he said. So one fateful night he felt his death breathe softly on the hairs of his neck. He scurried home and found in the dusty cobwebs of his heart his collectors sack. So he began again in earnest to seek and to find.
From then on he counted all the moons, the ones that shone the change upon him. The mighty Wizard became his friend and he learned and he learned. He searched for the harbour of his youth and went there back, to the Southern Cape and in the mountains of beyond, it all went wrong. Seared by the Southern sky he began to die.
Back in the land of mist and rain, he crossed a bridge never to return, now collecting in a different way. For now his bag was a bag of dreams. As he passed with-in all was changed in the fire of birth. The mouse became a man and he stood all, all alone.
For now the song was in him and he began to sing. On, a birthday dawn he saw the sun of Sinai’s flaming brush that painted him back.
He searched again for the Wizard in a heather land, of lochs and castles in the air. Yet for him, he was not there. So he danced in the morning when the world was begun, and he danced in the evening with the setting sun. As he howled at the moon, he knew the freedom of the Wolf and the twinkle of a far off star. His howl resonated with the birth of all the worlds and tickled the hairs that were touched by death’s softest breath.
And the only remnant of what was, is, the hint of pink in his eyes.