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A long, long time ago before there was a moon, before there were stars, before there was the quite night to help you sleep, there was only daylight in West Africa.

 Since there was daylight all the time, plants and vegetables grew quickly. Too quickly. As fast as the bananas grew, the people of the Abure tribe picked them from the tree, so they would not spoil. (M) As fast as the yams grew in the rich, red soil, the people dug up the sweet yellow potatoes, so they would not spoil. (M) People never stop working. But when their baskets were full of food, they were so heavy that the people had to struggle to lift them even a finger from the ground. (M) Although there was plenty to eat, the people were not happy. For the more they worked, the more tired they became. Soon everybody was yawning. (S)

 One day when Ananse the Spider was walking there, he heard all the people yawing at the same at the same time. (S) When they saw him, they bowed their heads sleepily before him. (M)

 The village chief welcomed Ananse.

 “Ananse, please help us. What good is the sky god’s gift of food, if my people are too tired to eat? All day they work in the fields, but day never ends. As soon as one crop is picked, another is ready. There is never time to rest. Look,” he whispered and pointed to a young boy.

 The boy peeled a fresh banana. (M) He opened his mouth to eat it. (M) He raised the banana to his lips. (M) Suddenly he shut his eyes with the banana still in his hand. (M) He was sound asleep.

 “You see,” the Chief said slowly, “ He was too tired to eat the sweet banana fresh from the tree. My people will starve if they do not have time for sleep.”

 Ananse sat on the branch of a tree an thought.  Finally Ananse spoke, “If there were darkness, the plants could not grow. If there were darkness, you could not work. If there were darkness, then you could rest. First you must do as I say. Ask all the men, women and children to bend their heads to the ground, yawn into the earth and sprinkle that earth on my wings as I pass by.”

 The Chief beat his drum three times to call his people together. (S) Sleep-ily they listened as he explained. Then they all bent their heads to the ground and yawned into the earth. (M & S) As Ananse went around the circle, each person sprinkled a drop of dirt on his wings. (M) Then Ananse flew up to the sky god Nyame and bowed low before him. (M)

 The sky god muttered, “Your wings are dirty. Clean them!”

 Obediently Ananse brushed off the dirt. (M) As he did, Nyame heard the sound of hundreds of yawns coming from the dirt. (S)

 “What is that terrible noise?” Nyame asked. “Stop it at once! Who is complaining so noisily?”

 “Oh mighty sky god,” Ananse said, “it is the men, women and children on earth.”

 “What  trouble humans are!” said Nyame. “What more do they want?”

 “They need darkness to rest in. they are not great like the gods. People yawn when they are tired. The more tired they are, the more they yawn. But if you would give them a dark time to rest the sound would stop,” promised Ananse.    CONTINUED


 

Ananse & the First Night

A N A N S e

The Spider

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