How Wisdom Got Out

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Anansi and pot of wisdom

This is Richard, and I am here with another story from Ghana in West Africa about Anansi. As I told you before, he sometimes takes the shape of a spider, and sometimes of a man. In this story he is in human form.

Adapted by Bertie.
Read by Richard.
Proofread by Jana Elizabeth.

Long ago, one old man had all the wisdom in world. His name was Father Anansi, and in some mysterious way he was related to the trickster spider of the same name. People always came to him with questions like:

"Father Anansi, what should I do to make my son behave better?"


"Father Anansi, what should I do to make my aunty well again?"


"Father Anansi, what should I do to make my yams grow?"

And he answered a 100 other such questions every day.

People paid him well for his wisdom, and he grew rich and his family was never hungry. But Anansi feared that one day somebody would try to steal all his wisdom, and he would no longer possess the thing that brought him respect and wealth. And so one day, he decided to collect together all his wisdom in one big pot and hide it in the forest.

Now his son was called Kweku Tsin, and he was as smart and as tricky as his father. He suspected that Anansi had some secret plot, and he decided to follow him. He walked behind his father and his big pot, until he came to the tallest tree in the forest. Anansi meant to climb to the top of the tree, and hang his pot of wisdom on the highest branch where nobody would see it.
Anansi strapped the pot in front of his body, and then he tried to climb the tree. But try as he might, he could not get beyond the first branch because he fell down to the ground.


He stood up and rubbed a bruise on his back. Not one to give up easily, he started to climb again.  This time he reached the second branch before falling back to the ground.

“Ooooh Ouch!”

A third time, Anansi tried to climb the tree, and on this occasion he just managed to grab the third branch before he tumbled back onto the ground.

“Oooh, Oooh, Ouch!”

His son stepped out from behind the bush where he had been hiding and said:

“Father, I have seen you try three times to climb the tree with the pot dangling in front of you. Thank you for this amusing comedy. My sides hurt because I have been laughing so much. But let me tell you how to do this. Put the pot on your back, and then you will find it so much easier to climb the tree.”

And Anansi immediately grew angry and threw the pot down onto the ground:

“What is the point of all this wisdom," he demanded to know, "if my son knows how to do this simple thing better than I do?”

And as he spoke, all the wisdom flew out of the pot and scattered around the four corners of the world. And that is why there is, despite all appearances to the contrary, so much wisdom in the world. People know how to take care of things, how to make things work, and how to get things done. And all that wisdom is due to the bad temper of Father Anansi who threw down the pot of wisdom in a tantrum.