AKA: Ananse, Kwaku Ananse, Aunt Nancy, Nanzi
Origin: West Africa (more than likely Ghana)
Anansi is an African trickster god. The word ‘trickster’ alone should already give hints to how he is as a god. But he is also a Creator God, having created rain, day and night. He is as wise as he is clever. And, in case you couldn’t tell by the image, he was a spider god, being able to morph into a spider and a normal looking human being. In some stories, he is the son of Nyame, the sky god, who got so annoyed with his son that he turned him into a spider.
Speaking of Nyame, there’s a story that explains how stories came to be. Once, there were no stories in the entire world, because Nyame hoarded them all. Anansi didn’t like this so he went to ask Nyame to let him have the stories to share. Nyame agreed but wanted Onini the Python, Osebo (leopard), Mmoboro Hornets, and the dwarf Mmoatia in exchange.
So Anansi set out to collect them by using his sly and tricky nature. He tricked the python into tying himself on a branch, the leopard was caught in his webs when Anansi offered to help him out a hole (which he dug), convinced the hornets that it was raining and the only shelter was this calabash he carried with him, and he got the dwarf stuck to a doll covered with sticky gum.
As promised, Nyame bestowed him the title of God of Stories. A title that he is most known for. In fact, a collection of stories and fables are called anansesem (spider tales).
West Africa isn’t the only place you can hear about Anansi. During the Slave Trade to the West Indies, the Africans who were taken as slaves kept his oral tradition alive. Countries like the United States, the Caribbean Islands, Colombia, Suriname, etc. has their own variation of Anansi. And as such, he became their symbol of resistance and freedom, telling stories of how Anansi could trick slave owners into granting freedom or humiliating them.
(Art found here!)