Jamaica: Anansi, White-Belly and Fish

In this story, Anansi engages in a whole series of triumphs, turning his one setback (being marooned on an island and falling into the water) into an occasion to get even more food to feed his insatiable hunger!

White-Belly is the white-bellied Jamaican dove.

The "rice-pop" referred to in the story is a Jamaican rice porridge, sometimes called rice-cog. Bob Marley made Jamaican porridge famous in the lyrics to "No Woman No Cry" of course!

[Notes by LKG]

This story is part of the Jamaican Stories unit. Story source: Jamaica Anansi Stories by Martha Warren Beckwith (1924).

Anansi, White-Belly and Fish

Anansi is accustomed to lie in the sun every morning watching the birds going to feed. One day he said to White-belly, "Brar White-belly, whe' you go to feed eb'ry day? Tek me wid you."

So White-belly promised on condition that he would behave himself. He fitted him out with a pair of wings to fly, and they went to the feeding-trees. These overhung a river.

Every tree White-belly went on, Anansi said, "A fe me tree dat!" and White-belly went away to another. Anansi eat so much that he fell fast asleep.

White-belly got annoyed. When Anansi was sleeping, he went and took off the false wings. Anansi turned in his sleep and fell into the river.

The Fish picked him up and took him to their home. He said, "Cousin Fish, no eat me!"

"If we are 'cousin' we wi' see!"

Fish boiled some hot rice-pop. Anansi said, "It no hot enough! Putee in the sun mekee hot more!" When he thought it was quite cooled off, put it to his head, never stopped drinking until it was finished.

Then Fish say, "Yes, me cousin fe trew!"

It was getting night and Fish told him to remain over until next day.

Fish had a barrel of eggs in the kitchen. Anansi wanted to eat them off, asked Fish to make his bed in the kitchen for the night. He poached all the eggs in the ashes, left one, and they went 'pop!'

The pickney say, "A wha' stranger man a do deh?"

The Fish mother said, "Have manners, pickney! Let you cousin prosper."

Morning dawn, the mother sent the children to bring the eggs to her to count them.

Anansi said, "Mek the child'ren keep quiet; me wi' work!" and he took the one egg, took it to the mother Fish. Each time she marked it he would wipe it off, take back the same egg, until he had taken the whole barrel full.

After that, he said he wanted to go.

Fish said to two of the children, "Me son, get the canoe an' tek you cousin over the river." It was looking very breezy and rainy.

When they got half way across, Fish bawled out at the top of her voice, "Bring stranger man back he-e-ah! Fe he eat off all me eggs; only one is heah!"

The children say, "Wha' ma say?"

Anansi said, "You ma say you mus' row quickly, squall ahead!"

The children rowed across. Anansi took them up, put them in his bag and took them home, eat them. And from that day, fishes are eaten!

(500 words)

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