Multilingual Folk Tale Database


Author: unknown author

Translated into English
  by Maarten Janssen - 2014

Original title (Sranan Tongo):
Anansi na Angriten

Country of origin: Surinam

Story type: Rumpelstiltskin (ATU 500)


English - aligned

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Anansi in hunger

Maarten Janssen

In the country where Anansi lived, a big famine broke out, because there was a flood. After that a hard drought had come. So all the food in the fields went bad. The cassava and potato was spoiled. All the banana trees fell down. There was no food.

It was like in the time of Josef. Egypt had food, but the other countries didn't. Then the people went to buy good in Egypt. You can read that story of Josef in the Bible.

In this Anansi story, the king had a difficult name. He wasn't greedy. But he did the following. He said: "Everybody that wants to work, can have food. They can come to pick cassava, or pluck potatoes. They can come to chop plantain. But first they must tell me my name. If you do not know my name, you must leave behind all the things you have taken from the fields."

Anansi called Akuba. He said: "Listen, I am going to go to the country to listen to the king's name. But you must help me. You must put a diaper on me. Then you will place a small bottle of porridge next to me in a basket where I am going to sleep. The cloth must be so full that the king cannot see how big I am. Do you understand? Then you take your big basket and put as much food in it as you can carry. If you don't manage to carry it, you will drag it. I will help you afterwards. Then I will try to hear what the king's name is."

Akuba said: "OK."

Early the next day, at sunrise, he went on the road with Anansi. Anansi was carrying the small basket. But when they get close to the country, Akuba puts the diaper on him, puts him in the small basket, en carries him.

He said: "My king, I beg you, can't I take a little bit of food from your fields?"

King says: "Yes, my dear, you can come. But think well. If you don't know my name, you must leave all the food you pluck."

Akuba said: "I know that, my king. I will guess. Perhaps I can find it. Akuba furthermore said: "My king, I have a little boy here. I don't have anybody to look after this little boy. He is about nine months. I can't leave him in the house all alone. I have no one. I am begging you, my king, can't I put him on the side right here? I will put a bottle of porridge for him. If he cries, you can give it to him. Then he will stay quiet."

At noon, Anansi begins to cry and cry. King gives him the porridge.

But Akuba picksup the food. Other people help him, and help him until the afternoon. The sun begins to set. Then he gets to the king's house.

When Anansi finishes eating the porridge, he peed a lot. The whole diaper is soaking wet. Then he raises his voices and starts to shout.

When a baby is wet, you must change his diaper. King doesn't know how to do that. He also doesn't have the patience. He said: "Why are you shouting so?"

King has a look in the basket. He said: "What do we have here, Kongodifa? A small boy of a few month, how can it pee so much? Where does all the water come from? It cannot only be from inside his belly! Yes, my Kongodifa, what do we have here today? So Anansi heard the name.

When Akuba came back with the basket, King said: "The boy make noise, you hear."

The mother said: "Yes, my king. Jeez, the boy was whiny, right?"

King said: "He was sweet except for the peeing. He peed right in front of me. I didn't know what to do. I won't touch him, you hear. I won't touch him."

Akuba said: "My king, I will carry him away, because I am not carrying anything worth while for him. I will get him up with the water."

King said: "Yes, but you cannot take the basket with the food. You must first tell me my name."

He said: "King, is it a difficult name?"

King said: "I don't know."

"Is it an easy name? What letter does the name start with?"

King said: "No no, that I can't tell you."

Akuba said: "Well, I will guess. King is not called Anansi, because my husband is called Anansi."

King said: "What a foolish name. No, I am not called that."

"King, is your name Wan?"

King laughed.

"Is your name Weri? Is your name Kwaku? Is your name Kofi?..." Akuba said: "King, once I heard an Anansi story, a story a person told me. In that story, the king was called..."

King said: "Yes, tell me."

"The king was called King Kongodifa."

King said: "What?! How do you know my name? That is my name. Yes, Kongodifa."

Akuba said: "Yes, Kongodifa, that was how King was called." Because Anansi whispered softly in his ear when he came: "Kongodifa." Akuba heard it from Anansi.

King said: "Well, it is okay. You guessed right. But you mustn't tell anyone else. Then you can go home with your basket with your food. Another day you can come back, but you mustn't bring this boy anymore."

When they get around the corner, they change. Anansi takes the heavy basket with food. They laugh a lot.

A little while later Anansi had food for a whole month. As long as there was a famine, Akuba could go to take from from King Kongodifa's fields. Anansi solved the problem himself.

It had to be Anansi!