This month is Black History Month here in the UK. This time of year always leads me to reflect on the many remarkable achievements that those from the African diaspora have accomplished over the years, and their enduring legacy.
One of the things that was always has always stuck with me about this vast and diverse cultural heritage is the the penchant for oral history and the passing down facts and beliefs through story and song. As a child, I listened to many stories told to me by relatives from the Caribbean and inspired by those, I would borrow countless books from my primary school library to learn more about these larger than life folk heroes and myths. As my part to ongoing process, I wanted to use the space we have here to share a few short words about my memories and experiences with with a few of these characters that have come to form the backbone of my cultural upbringing, but have also influenced many other modern myths and legends that we are familiar with today.
The very 1st tale of this type that I remember, featured a mischievous character called Anansi (pronounced AH-NAN-SEE). In the stories I heard, he often took on the form of a man with eight legs, but he was widely known throughout the culture to be a spider. His origins begin with the Ashanti people of Ghana, but as trans-Atlantic slavery spread people far and wide across the world, so his story spread to the Caribbean and beyond. In his tales, Anansi is depicted as a wise and wily character, who often has a lesson to teach through his antics, and there are many wonderful stories out there. A great resource I stumbled upon was AnansiStories.com, which has tales both ancient and modern and give a great explanation of the characters history and importance.
Anansi has not only featured in older tales, but has actually been referenced many times in modern culture too. He has appeared as a character in both DC and Marvel comics, and had his tales told on ‘Sesame Street’ and featured as a character in the animated TV show ‘Gargoyles’. You can also find many stories being retold online via YouTube, which is great for any young kids in your life that you may want to get into Anansi’s adventures;
Hopefully this small taster will ignite an interest in the many fables that African cultures have to offer, and as it is Halloween, for the next post I’ll be back with some of the more spooky myths and legends that the diaspora has to offer!
See you all tomorrow!