“Once upon a time, there were no stories in this world…” Toronto Storytelling Festival: March 19th-29th, 2015

Anansi:  the Spider God who is a storyteller, and whose name is synonymous with skill in speech.

Anansi: the Spider God who is a storyteller, and whose name is synonymous with skill in speech.

2015 Toronto Storytelling Festival
Among the many events…
The Talking Stick: a special evening at 1001 Friday Nights of Storytelling, Innis College, March 20th , 8 pm.
Queers in Your Ears, at Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives (CLGA), March 21st, 2 pm.
All Aboard! On the Katari Story Time Machine, at the Japan Foundation, Toronto, March 21st, 3 pm.
Storytelling with Elizabeth Laird and Rubena Sinha: Animal Fables and Tiger Tales, at the Aga Khan Museum, March 22nd, 2 pm to 10 pm.
A Storytelling Journey to Ethiopia, Brazil, and The Yukon, at The Ismaili Centre, Toronto, March 23rd, 7:30 pm.
D’bi Young: dubpoet, praise-singer, storyteller, at Aki Studio Theatre, Daniels Spectrum, Regent Park, Toronto, March 24th, 5 pm.
Storytalk: What comes first – the story or the world? At Paintbox Bistro, Regent Park, Toronto, March 28th, 10 am.
Storytalk: Aqausivut – Our Inuit Love Songs from mother to child, at Paintbox Bistro, March 28th, 11:15 am.
. . .
Storytellers will include:  Taina Tyebjee, Leeya Solomon, Marîa del Carmen Orodoñez, Michael Parent, Mahlika Awe:ri, Djennie Laguerre, Richard Wagamese, Itah Sadu, Donald Carr, Rubena Sinha,
…and more!
.     .     .
ANANSI is a West-African god who often takes the shape of a spider. The Asante (Ashanti) people of Ghana had many Anansi tales, and these stories were in the oral tradtion; Anansi himself was always synonymous with skill + wisdom in speech.
There is one Anansi story that explains the phenomenon of how his name became attached to the whole corpus of tales:
Once upon a time there were no stories in this world; the Sky-God, Nyame, had them all.
Anansi went to Nyame and asked how much they would cost to buy.
Nyame set a high price: Anansi must bring back Onini the Python, Osebo the Leopard, and the Mboro Hornets.
And so, Anansi set about to capture these three: python, leopard, and the hornets.
First he went to where Python lived and debated out loud whether Python was really longer than the palm branch – or not as his wife Aso had said. Python overheard, and, when Anansi explained the debate, agreed to lie along the palm branch. Because he could not easily make himself completely straight, a true impression of his actual length was difficult to obtain. So Python agreed to be tied to the branch. And once he was completely tied down, Anansi took him to Nyame.
To catch the Leopard, Anansi dug a deep hole in the ground. When the leopard fell in the hole Anansi offered to help him out with his webs. Once the leopard was out of the hole he was bound in Anansi’s webs – and carried away.
To catch the hornets, Anansi filled a calabash with water and poured some over a banana leaf he held over his head and some over the nest, calling out that it was raining. He suggested the bees get into the empty calabash, and when they obliged, he quickly sealed the opening.
Anansi handed his captives over to Nyame, and Nyame rewarded him by making him the “god of all stories”.


“Anancy and Common Sense” (A tale told in Jamaican Patois)


Wance apan a time Breda Anancy mek up im mind seh im gwine callect all a de camman sense inna de wurl. Im was tinking dat he would be de smartest smaddy in de wurl ef im do dis. So Anancy traveled all ova de wurl collecting camman sense. Im go to big countries an likkle ones. Im go to primary schools and universities. Im go to govament offices and businesses. Im go people house and dem work place.

Im tek all de zillions camman sense he had collected fram around the wurl and put it a big calabash. Im tek de calabash wid im to im backyard and climbed a big gwangu tree. His plan was to store it at de tap of the tree for safety-keeping. Nobady woulda get to it but Anancy.

To mek sure it was safe Anancy tie the calabash to de front of his bady. Dis slow down im progress up de tree to a slow crawl. Im did look very clumsy a-go up de tree wid be-caw the calabash dida hamper im.

As im was slowing going up toward de top a de tree a likkle girl below called out to im. Anancy, mek you nuh tie the calabash pon you back insteada in front of yuh. It will git up de tree much fasta and ez-a.

Anancy was bex be-cah de likkle girl show im up for not thinking. She had more good sense dan him he thought. He called out to her “Mi did tink me collected all the camman sense fram all ova de wurl”

He was so angry dat im fling the calabash to the to the groung and it bust. All of the camman sense im did callect fly back to all ova de wurl.

An dat’s how you and I manage to have just a likkle common sense for we-self tideh.

.     .     .     .     .