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In Ghana and other parts of West Africa, people make up stories about a person called Ananse. In some stories, they say he is a spider. In others, he is a man, who sometimes becomes a spider because he has done something foolish. Ghanaians love these stories which teach about the best way to live life. The stories started in the Ashanti tribe, and have also spread beyond West Africa to the West Indies.

A new Ananse story

Kwaku Ananse lived with his family in the village of the Lion King, Gyata. This king was good to all those in the village, protecting them from danger and making sure that they had enough to eat. But Ananse was not happy with the things he had. Although his family had enough to eat, and space to keep their own animals, Ananse always wanted more.

So at night he began to steal food from the king's land. This went on for many months. "I am sure that no-one knows what I am doing," Ananse said to himself.

One night, he was taking mangoes from King Gyata's tree. It was a hot night and Gyata could not sleep, so he came out from his hut. He walked around his land to find a cooler place to sit. Ananse did not hear Gyata as he came and stood quietly watching him. "Ananse!" said the King, very sad to see what Ananse was doing.

Ananse was so frightened, he climbed as fast as he could to the top of the mango tree. There he hid, curled up very small, and waited for Gyata to go away. But by making himself so small, he turned into a spider. Now that he was a spider, he had to live in the trees, or in the roofs of the huts. This made him very sad. Gyata came looking for him many times, calling his name, "Ananse, Ananse, I want to forgive you for stealing my things. Come down and talk to me. I will change you from being a spider."

But all Ananse could hear was Gyata's roar. He did not expect Gyata to speak kindly to him, so he thought Gyata must be roaring in anger. He could no longer hear the words coming from Gyata's mouth so he never came down.

When we do things that are wrong, we sometimes think that nothing will happen to us. But we find that fear has come between us and God. It is as if a wall has come between us. This stops us from hearing God's voice calling to us.