Spider and the Magic Calabash

spider-5-coloring-pageOnce upon a time there was a village where famine was raging; the king was very worried because the children were dying and the villagers no longer had enough strength to go and cultivate the land. This was where Kaku Ananze, the spider lived. Despite all his cunning, he too was suffering from hunger. Every day he went into the bush in search of roots or seeds that could feed his family. One day, Kaku Ananze was wandering among the bushes. Exhausted with fatigue, he stopped to rest. So he hears a little voice coming out of a thicket which tells him, “Papa Ananze! Papa Ananze!” A bit scared and very curious to know who is calling him, Kaku Ananze enters amidst the thorns and discovers a calabash placed on the ground.

Calebassier_3_2021
The calabash all dried up… almost ready to be made into a bowl

As he takes a closer look, the kitchen utensil speaks to him in these terms, “Take me out of this thorn bush and take me to your hut. As a reward, I will make your life happy.”

Spider picks up the calabash and takes it home. Once home, he calls his wife and children. He shows them the utensil and tells them his story. While everyone is amazed, Kaku Ananze leans over the calabash and says to it, “Dear friend, I did everything you wanted. It’s up to you to keep your promise. My people and I are starving and have no food; can you help us?” No sooner does he finish these words than the calabash is filled with all kinds of food: fried yams, beignets, plantains, bananas, chicken, sauce,… They all thank their new friend, eat until they are full. Then Kaku Ananze speaks in these terms, « children, listen to me, and you too, wife ! I am going to carefully hide this magic calabash. Do not tell anyone, under any circumstances, because people will be jealous of our luck and could come and steal the calabash from us. » All family members swear to remain silent. For a few days everything goes well. In the evening, Spider takes the calabash from its hiding place, and politely asks for food, and after the family has eaten, he returns the utensil back.

Beignets
Beignets

But, Kaku Ananze’s wife is very greedy. She hid a few bean fritters in her loincloth as provision for the day. In the afternoon, she goes out of the concession, sits under a mango tree and begins to eat. But her hungry neighbor sees her. The neighbor quietly approaches and starts screaming, “how can you have bean fritters, when everybody is dying of hunger, and that there is no food in the village? Besides, I did not see you pounding the dough or cooking. Who did you steal this from?”

Mrs. Spider is bothered. She immediately gives her remaining beignets to the neighbor, begging her to shut up. This one devours everything then starts making noise again. “Thief! Thief ! Who did you take this from?”  Scared, Mrs. Spider tells her the whole story of the magic calabash found by her husband, and swears to her, that from now on, she will bring her a little food every day if she keeps the secret.

During the night, the neighbor who cannot hold her tongue, tells her husband everything; the husband immediately goes to the king to denounce Kaku Ananze’s selfishness.

The king sends soldiers to search the entire concession of Kaku Ananze, but they do not find anything. The magic calabash has disappeared. And no one ever saw it again.

Adea, kue

The tongue is death.

Contes des Lagunes et des Savanes, Edicef (1975). Translated to English by Dr. Y., Afrolegends.com

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