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Anansi and the tiger

Cutout animation

Anansi or Uncle Nancy is a spider god whose folklore originates from West Africa. Since his folklore is largely spread through word, he traveled to the Caribbean through the trans-Atlantic slave trade which significantly shaped his stories, morals, and characterization. 

Growing up, my Jamaican grandmother taught the family Anansi’s stories. Anansi existed beyond the simple Western narrative of the good and evil characterization. Anansi, formed from generational trauma and resilience, stood higher than the flattened Western perspective of him as a trickster that I’ve observed. Disturbingly, I have seen him represented as a spooky cartoonish villain which is representative of a lack of empathy for the heavier issues of white supremacy Anansi’s stories directly tackle.

The story of Anansi and the Tiger stood out to me especially because of the story’s distinct reflection of the oppression black people have continued to suffer as well as the story’s encouragement to fight against oppression.​

Brief summary of Anansi and the Tiger:

After Anansi the spider has fished for a meal, the tiger asks if he has fished. Anansi lies and says he hasn’t caught anything. The tiger, suspicious of him, follows Anansi, sees he has food, and eats all of it. 

Later, when Anansi saw the tiger again, he audibly notices there was much fruit in a tree nearby. The tiger who is greedy and lazy, orders Anansi to climb the tree to grab fruit for the tiger. Anansi obliges. When Anansi is above, he remarks there are lice in the tiger’s fur and offers to pick them out. The tiger accepts happily and falls asleep. While the tiger sleeps, Anansi weaves his fur into the tree. 

Eventually, a hunter comes and kills the tiger.

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