Kweku Ananse and Abebe the Grasshopper
A long time ago, Abebe the grasshopper lived in the village of Duadaso. He was a wealthy man, but many people spoke against the way he made money. Often, he will persuade people to work for him, but when the work had been done, he would cunningly refuse to pay them.
One day, he went about the village shouting ”I am going to set traps to catch animals. Who is foolish enough to join me in this work?”
Abebe put the question many times to the general public but nobody answered his call. He did not give up but went on shouting, “a fool, a fool, I want a fool to set traps with. Is there no fool in this village? If there is no fool here, then I will go to the next village to look for a fool.”
Abebe shouted his invitation round the lands of the village. Ananse’s son, Ntikuma went home and spoke to his father “father, there are many people in the street. A man known as Abebe is asking if there is any fool in this village to join him in setting up traps in the forest. But nobody has joined him yet. The whole thing sounds quite funny to me. Will you go and try it?”
“It is funny, son. When Abebe makes such a call, then something important is at stake. I shall join him,” said Ananse.
“But father, Abebe wants a fool and you are not a fool. I know!” Ntikuma said.
“No. I am not a fool but I shall call myself a fool in order to trick Abebe.” Kweku Ananse comforted his son.
Ananse walked quickly to the spot. When next Abebe made his request, Ananse gave himself up as the fool. He therefore went to Abebe in the middle of the crowd.
“I am a fool; I am ready to work with you on the traps,” said Ananse.
Those who knew Ananse were surprised at his offer of help. The grasshopper was very happy and said to himself; I couldn’t have been luckier. Ananse is the very person I will love to fool. For all his cunning, I will prove to him that I am cleverer than he is.”
Ananse and Abebe went into a very dense forest. In this forest were many footprints of animals. Abebe examined them and told Ananse that they would make very good catches everyday. The two companions started to work and before sunset, they had set up quite a good number of traps. They agreed that they would visit the traps together everyday. When Ananse went back home, he reported all that had happened to his son. He also told him how he, would fool Abebe, the rich cheat.
“I will teach Abebe a lesson that he will never forget,” he said.
“What lesson will it be father?” Ntikuma asked.
“Do not be in a hurry. You will see the result of the lesson in the soup you will be eating tomorrow.”
“Good luck, father. Abebe is such a hard man!” Ntikuma told his father.
Early the next morning, Ananse was still fast asleep and snoring deeply when Abebe came to his door.
“Hey, Kweku, are you still asleep? Get up, so that we can go and visit the traps.”
They went to the traps. The last trap had caught an animal. Ananse was not impressed and said, “my good friend, this is only a rat and so you can have it.”
“No, no, no! I have no taste for little animals. They only whet my appetite. You have it. If there is a bigger one tomorrow, I will take it,” said Abebe. Ananse, pretending to be fair told his friend, “let us share this, so that if tomorrow there is a bigger one, we will share it equally also. That will be fair.”
“No, no, you take this; tomorrow’s bigger catch will be mine. That will be very just,” Abebe insisted. Ananse agreed and took the rat to his house. As soon as Ntikuma saw his father’s bag, he shouted,” father, what is inside the bag?”
“A big rat! Give it to your mother.” His father asked him.
Aso, Ananse’s wife used it to prepare a very delicious meal. Ananse and his family enjoyed it very much.
The next morning, before sunrise, the two friends were in the forest again to visit the traps. As luck would have it, one of the traps had caught a squirrel.
“What a small animal this is!” said Ananse. “Well, it’s your turn, Abebe. I told you to take a rat and you refused. When we come back tomorrow and the trap catches an antelope or a zebra, I will have it because it will be my turn tomorrow.”
“Do not talk brush, “remarked Abebe in anger. “If you compare the size of a squirrel and a rat put together with the size of one antelope, you will find that the antelope is bigger. An antelope’s meat tastes better than that of a squirrel. My friend, take the squirrel and the bigger one tomorrow will be mine.” Abebe treated Ananse the same way everyday, and lost all the animals that were trapped.
Each time Anase told the grasshopper not to be disappointed because he knew the traps would finally catch Ahun-ne Ahan-ne Ahahunu, and that will be his. He said Ahun-ne Ahan-ne Ahahunu was the largest animal in the world. It was so large that, it had six feet instead of four! Abebe was pleased and happy but the truth is Ahun-ne Ahan-ne Ahahunu is no animal at all, but a collection of dry leaves. Abebe did not know this, and the huge name intrigued him so much.
Abebe went home and narrated the story to his wife. She became annoyed and said, “don’t you know that Kweku Ananse is a cunning and deceitful one? Are you are fool to give all those fine animals to him without taking even just a single one? If you come empty handed tomorrow, you will not be given any food to eat here.”
Anxious to bring something home, Abebe left the house very early the next day to visit the traps alone. But Ananse had already gone there and put a collection of leaves – Ahun-ne Ahan-ne Ahahunu in the traps. That day, one of the traps had caught a fine buck. Of course Ananse took it away.
Abebe who became disappointed hurriedly went from one trap to the other but the same leaves were found in each trap. Abebe then sat down on a stump and thought aloud, “Ei, is that what the world is like? Ananse has deceived and fooled me. What am I going to tell my wife?” As Abebe sat, deep in thought, Ananse popped out of the woods.
“Hello hopper!” he said.” How are things? Any news? Have you got your zebras, antelopes and elephants?”
The grasshopper looked at the Spiderman from the corners of his eyes and scorned Ananse for his taunts. From a sense of defeat, he started weeping and said, “Henceforth, we will share everything equally.”
“Ho, friend! I shall no longer go animal trapping with you, so, there will be nothing to share.” Ananse said. But Abebe continued weeping, saying in between sobs, “pe, pe, pe (meaning equally, equally, equally).
The grasshopper has ever since been crying and chanting those words, “pe, pe, pe.”
The next time you hear a grasshopper crying, remember his experience. He wanted to cheat but was cheated instead.