Myth-Folklore Unit: West African Folktales

Overview. The stories in West African Folktales were collected in the early years of the 20th century from African students at a teacher training center in Accra, the capital of Ghana, a country that is home to over 100 ethnic groups (Ashanti, Fante, Ewe, and more). Many of the stories focus on Anansi, a sly, greedy, dangerous trickster. You will also meet Kweku Tsin, Anansi's good-hearted son who is sometimes able to outwit his father. According to one legend, Anansi became the moon in the sky, but Keweku Tsin became the sun, literally outshining his father. Anansi's tricks also explain the origins of other natural phenomena: why the lizard bobs his head up and down, why termites destroy human houses, and why spiders like to hide under stones. There are other animal stories in this collection also, including tales of tortoises, tigers, chameleons and elephants, and some human adventures too!

Language. These stories are told in modern English prose, so the language used should pose no difficulties.

Story Length. These are all single-page stories.

Navigation. You will find the table of contents below, and you can also use this link to see the story posts displayed on two pages total: West Africa. Click "Older Posts" at the bottom of that page to see the second page.

Table of Contents:

  1. How We Got the Name "Spider Tales"
  2. How Wisdom Became the Property of the Human Race
  3. Anansi and Nothing
  4. Thunder and Anansi
  5. Why the Lizard Moves His Head Up and Down
  6. Tit For Tat
  7. Why White Ants Always Harm Man's Property
  8. The Squirrel and the Spider
  9. Why We See Ants Carrying Bundles As Big As Themselves
  10. Why Spiders Are Always Found in Corners of Ceilings
  11. The Grinding-Stone That Ground Flour By Itself
  1. The Moon and Stars
  2. How the Tortoise Got Its Shell
  3. The Hunter and the Tortoise
  4. The Leopard and the Ram
  5. King Chameleon and the Animals
  6. Elephant and Wren
  7. The Ungrateful Man
  8. Why Tigers Never Attack Men Unless They Are Provoked
  9. How Mushrooms First Grew
  10. Farmer Mybrow and the Fairies