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        “Anything to stop that sound,” said Nyame, and he ordered the other gods to weave a great, dark cloth to hide the daylight. The gods wove and wove. (M) Then they sewed. (M) And when all the pieces of cloth were sewn together, it was the largest, darkest cloth any of the gods had ever seen.  

B the first time the cloth was lowered, the people and the animals were frightened.

         For suddenly there was no daylight.

 The snake hissed. (S)

 The crocodiles in the rivers snapped their jaws. (S)

 When the people tried to walk, the roots of the jungle tripped their legs.  It was so dark that when they stretched their hands in front of their noses, they could not find their hands again. (M)

 That first night none rested. Some cried, “Nyame, Nyame, why are you punishing us?” The noise was so great; it wakened the great Nyame, who was fast asleep on a floating cloud.

 Angrily he called for Ananse. “This howling is worse than the yawns, and just listen to them! All I hear are complaints. Cries and complaints! Their noise woke me up, and now it won’t let me sleep. Ananse, you shall be punished for disturbing my dreams!” He lifted his powerful arm as though he were going to strike him. (M)

“Oh, mighty Nyame,” Ananse said quickly, “before you strike, please listen to me.” (M)

“It is very simple,” Ananse explained. “You have made a cloth for the gods, not for man. It is too perfect. When men weave cloth, there is room for light. If this great cloth had a few holes in it, it would not scare them so, and they would stop howling. And if the cloth were lowered more slowly, people could see through the jungle. Then they would not get caught in the jungle vines and cry all night.”

 Nyame ordered Ananse to make holes in the cloth.

Ananse hurried. He bit pieces here and pieces there. (M) It was hard work, and as the hours raced by, he rushed to finish. Finally the great blanket was full of holes, but Ananse had been careless as he rushed. Some holes were much larger than others.

Nyame gently lowered the great cloth, full of holes. (M)

Slowly the sunlight disappeared behind the great mahogany trees of the jungle. It warned people to go home, and they all looked in amazement at the beautiful sunset. (M) That night people saw the first bits of light in the great cloth. They saw the moon appear as they reached their round mud houses with roofs of dried grass. They fell asleep counting the many different sized stars.

The next morning each woke up after his rest and stretched happily. (M)

The Chief beat the drum three times to call his people together. (S) Everyone ran to the square. (S)

No one felt sleepy.

As they reached the square, the Chief heard a noise above him on the branch of the tree. (S) He looked up and saw Ananse sitting there.

“Ananse,” the Chief, “it was you who gave us a dark time to rest. We thank you. It is you who are the friend of man.”

“Shh,” Ananse whispered. “That is our secret! The gift of night is yours as long as you never let Nyame hear you yawn again.”

And that is how Ananse tricked Nyame the sky god into giving man the moon and the stars . . . and a time to sleep.

(And I end the story by saying … and that is why, to this day, whenever we humans yawn,
we always cover our mouths with our hands, so Nyame won’t hear us!)

Ananse & the First Night