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Stories in a Nutshell

Anansi Goes Fishing

A Folktale from West Africa

Foolish Anansi thought he could trick a fisherman into doing his work for him. ‘Let’s go fishing,’ he suggested.

‘Very well,’ said the fisherman, who was clever and quite wise to Anansi’s tricks. ‘I’ll make the nets and you can get tired for me.’

‘Wait,’ said Anansi, ‘I’ll make the nets and you can get tired for me.’ Anansi made nets as his friend pretended to be tired. They caught four fish.

The fisherman said, ‘Anansi, you take these. I’ll take tomorrow’s catch. It might be bigger.’

Greedily imagining the next day’s catch, Anansi said, ‘No, you take these, and I’ll take tomorrow’s fish.’

But the next day, the nets were rotting away, and no fish were caught. The fisherman said, ‘Anansi, take these rotten nets to market. You can sell them for much money.’

When Anansi shouted, ‘Rotten nets for sale!’ in the marketplace, people beat him with sticks.

‘Some partner you are,’ Anansi said to the fisherman as he rubbed his bruises. ‘I took the beatings. At least you could have taken the pain.’

Anansi never tried to trick the fisherman again.