This is Richard, and I’m back to tell you how Anansi met Father Thunder. As you may know by now, Anansi comes from Ghana in West Africa, and sometimes he is a tricky spider, and sometimes he is human.
Adapted by Bertie.
Read by Richard.
Proofread by Jana Elizabeth.
There was a famine in the land. Anansi did not know where his next meal would come from. He was walking along the beach, with his hand on his empty stomach, when his hungry eyes caught sight of an island out at sea. It was lined with palm trees.
“Oh yes!” he thought. “Coconuts.”
But how was he to reach the island? He soon found an answer, of sorts, to his problem. Further along the beach he came across an old broken boat. It did not look seaworthy, but times were desperate. He shoved it out into the sea, and a great wave buffeted him back onto the sand. Hunger prompted him back onto his feet to try again and 'Bam!' A great wave knocked him over. Seven times he tried to push the boat out to sea, seven times he fought with the waves, and only on the seventh occasion did he succeed in getting the boat afloat.
Anansi paddled hard in the direction of of the island. He could see the hairy coconuts clearly now. He licked his lips. He could almost taste the coconut milk. He jumped eagerly onto the land and tied his boat to a root, before climbing swiftly up the tree. He soon reached the coconuts and started to cut them loose and drop them down, meaning for them to land in the boat. But Oh no! However carefully he aimed, every time he dropped a nut it landed 'plop' in the sea and sunk straight down. Anansi’s heart was breaking at the sight of good food heading for the bottom. At last, in despair, he himself jumped off the branch and straight into the water. Better to drown, he thought, than die of hunger. Down he went - straight down to the seabed. And oddly enough, he found he could see and breath without any trouble. Here in the water he saw a little cottage made of sea shells. He knocked on the door and it was answered by an old man with a long grey beard.
“Who are you?” asked Anansi.
“I am Thunder,” boomed the old man. “Was it you who dropped coconuts on my roof?”
“I, I am sorry sir,” said Anansi. “I cut the coconuts because I am hungry, and I meant for them to land in my boat, but they missed and went into the sea.”
“It is well that I am in a good mood,” replied Thunder. “Or I might brew up a sea storm. Come in, I have something to give to you.”
Anansi stepped into the cottage hoping for a meal of fish. But Father Thunder had an even more wonderful gift. “Take this pot to your house,” he said. “Any time you are hungry, it will feed you.”
Anansi gladly accepted the gift, and a moment later he found himself sitting back in his boat. He paddled swiftly to the shore, and then ran to his village. When he arrived back at his hut, he took the pot straight into his room and said:
“Pot, do as Father Thunder commanded you.”
And the pot shook, hissed and steamed, glowed red with heat, and was soon full of food.
For a hungry man it was the happiest sight in the world. He greedily gobbled down all the food and was about to call his family to demonstrate what the pot could do, when he paused for thought:
“What if my family overwork the pot? It might break - and nobody in the village has the power to mend such a magical thing. A pot that can’t cook is no good to anyone. No, this toy is strictly for grown ups. I shall keep it to myself and out of the greedy, grabbing hands of my children and relatives.”
And with this selfish idea in his head, Anansi hid the wonderful cooking pot. As the days of the famine went by his wife and children grew thinner and thinner, while he grew fatter and fatter. But sneakiness ran in his family, and his eldest son, Kweku Tsin, decided to spy on his father, and see why his belly was enjoying such a contrasting fortune to the rest of the family. He had the power of shape-shifting which he used to turn himself into a fly and fasten himself to the corner of Anansi's room. At dinnertime, he saw his father creep into the room, take out the pot, command it to cook, and then gobble up the magical food.
"BZZZZZZZZZ!," he thought. "Papa has surpassed himself with sneakiness this time." He flew off to find his mother and tell her the secret that he had uncovered.
When Mrs Anansi heard of her husband's selfishness, she flew into a rage and cursed his name to the sky-god. Then she marched into his room, took out the magical pot from its hiding place and carried it into the middle of the village."
"Line up all you hungry folk," she called out, "and get your grub! It's hot and it's going free."
The villagers came running. The pot shook, and sizzled, and steamed, and glowed redder and redder until ...
It exploded like a bomb and sent everyone diving for cover.
And that was the end of Anansi's secret cooking pot. At first he was furious when he learned what his wife had done, and soon he was hungry again.
"So," he said. "I shall have to return to old man Thunder and ask him for another pot."
Once again he launched the rickety boat to sea. The clouds were dark and it looked like a storm might be brewing. The waves were choppy and he had to paddle harder than before. He reached the island of coconuts and jumped directly into the water below the tree. All was calm below the surface. He knocked at the cottage of shells and found himself face to face with Father Thunder.
"What do you want this time?" he demanded sharply.
Anansi told him what had happened, sparing no detail about the wickedness and treachery of his son and wife.
"I see," said Father Thunder. "How bothersome your family is for you. Take this magic stick. It will serve you with the respect due to you."
Anansi gratefully received the gift and the next moment he found himself back in his boat. He paddled furiously to shore before the storm blew up. As soon as he hit the sand, he ran up into the woods and found a quiet place to try out his new magical possession.
"Stick," he said, "do as Father Thunder said."
And the stick flew out of his hand and began to beat Anansi. Oh what a thrashing it gave him, every bit as he deserved! He ran back to his village chased by the stick whacking him all the way.