How Kwaku Ananse Got Aso in Marriage

(Ashanti)

There once lived a certain man called Akwasi-the-Jealous-One, and his wife was Aso. He did not want anyone to see Aso or anyone to talk to her, so he went and built a small settlement for Aso to live in. No one ever went into that village.

Now he, Akwasi-the-Jealous-One, could not beget children. Because of that, if he and his wife lived in town, someone would take her away. Now the sky-god advised the young men, saying, “Akwasi-the-Jealous-One has been married to Aso for a very, very long time. She has not conceived by him and borne a child; therefore he who is able, let him go and take Aso and, should she conceive by him, let him take her as his wife.” All the young men tried their best to lay hands on her, but not one was able.

Now Kwaku Ananse, the spider, was there watching these events and he said, “I can go to Akwasi-the-Jealous-One’s village.”

The sky-god said, “Can you really do so?”

Ananse said, “If you will give me what I require.”

The sky-god said, “What kind of thing?” Ananse replied, “Medicine for gun and bullets.” And the sky-god gave them to him.

Then Ananse took the powder and bullets to various small villages, saying, “The sky-god has bade me bring powder and bullets to you, and you are to go and kill meat, and on the day I shall return here I shall take it and depart.”

He distributed the powder and the bullets among very many small villages, until all were exhausted. All the villagers gave him some meat.

On a certain day Ananse wove a palm-leaf basket. Its length, as it were, was from here to over yonder. Ananse took it to the small villages where he had distributed the powder and bullets to receive all the meat which they had killed. Father Ananse took the meat and palm-leaf basket, set them on his head, and set out on the path leading to Akwasi-the-Jealous-One’s settlement. When he reached the stream from which Akwasi and his wife drank, he picked out some meat and put it in the stream.

Ananse strode hard, carrying the palm-leaf basket full of meat, and passed through the main entrance leading into Akwasi-the-Jealous-One’s compound. Aso saw him. She said, “Akwasi-e! Come and look at something which is coming to the house here. What can it be?”

Ananse said, “It is the sky-god who is sending me, and I am weary, and I am coming to sleep here.”

Akwasi-the-Jealous-One said, “I have heard my lord’s servant.”

Aso said to Ananse, “Father man, some of your meat has fallen down at the main entrance to the compound.”

The spider said, “Oh, if you happen to have a dog, let him go and take it and chew it.” So Aso went and got it and gave it to her husband. Then Ananse said, “Mother, set some food on the fire for me.” Aso put some on, and Ananse said, “Mother, is it fufuo [yams or plantains boiled and mashed; the resulting lump is then often put into a soup] that you are cooking or eto [yams, first boiled and then pounded]?”

Aso replied, “Fufuo.”

Ananse said, “Then it is too little; go and fetch a big pot.”

Aso went and fetched a big one, and Ananse said, “Come and get meat.” There were forty hindquarters of great beasts. He said, “Take only these and put them in the pot. If you had a pot big enough, I would give you enough meat to chew to make your teeth fall out.”

Aso finished preparing the food, turned it out of the pot, and placed it on a table, splashed water, and put it beside the rest of the food. Then Aso took her portion and went and set it down near the fire, and the men went and sat down beside the table. They touched the backs of each other’s hands and ate out of the same dish. All the time they were eating, Kwaku Ananse said, “There is no salt in this fufuo.”

Akwasi said to Aso, “Bring some.”

But Ananse said, “Not at all. When the woman is eating, you tell her to get up to bring salt. Do you yourself go and bring it.”

Akwasi arose from the table, and Ananse looked into his bag and took out a pinch of purgative medicine and put it in the fufuo. Then he called Akwasi, saying, “Come back, for I have brought some with me.”

When Akwasi came Ananse said, “Oh, I shall eat no more; I am full.” Akwasi, who suspected nothing, continued eating.

When they had finished their meal, Akwasi said, “Friend, we and you are sitting here and yet we do not know your name.”

Ananse replied, “I am called ‘Rise-Up-and-Make-Love-to-Aso.’”

Akwasi said, “I have heard, and you, Aso, have you heard this man’s name? ”

Aso replied, “Yes, I have heard.”

Akwasi rose up to go and prepare one of the spare bedrooms and to make everything comfortable. He said, “Rise-Up-and-Make-Love-to-Aso, this is your room, go and sleep there.”

The spider said, “I am the soul-washer to the sky-god and I sleep in an open veranda-room. Since mother bore me and father begat me, I have never slept in a closed bedroom.”

Akwasi said, “Where, then, will you sleep?”

He replied, “Were I to sleep in this open veranda-room here, to do so would be to make you equal to the sky-god, for it would mean that I was sleeping in the sky-god’s open veranda room. Since I am never to sleep in anyone’s open room except that of a sky-god, and since that is so, I shall just lie down in front of this closed sleeping-room where you repose.”

The man took out a sleeping mat and laid it there for him. Akwasi and his wife went to rest, and Ananse, too, lay down there. Ananse lay there and he slipped in the crossbar of the bedroom door. Ananse lay there and took his musical bow and sang:

Akuamoa Ananse, today we shall achieve something, today.

Ananse, the child of Nsia, the mother of Nyame the sky-god,
    today we shall achieve something, today.

Ananse, the soul-washer to Nyame the sky-god,
    today I shall see something.

Then he ceased playing his sepirewa, and he laid it aside and lay down. He had slept for some time when he heard Akwasi-the-Jealous-One calling, “Father man!” Not a sound in reply except the chirping of the cicada, dinn! “Father man!” Not a sound in reply except dinn! Akwasi-the-Jealous-One was dying. The medicine had taken effect on him, but he called, “Father man!” Not a sound in reply except dinn! At last he said, “Rise-Up-and-Make-Love-to-Aso!”

The spider said, “M! M! M!”

Akwasi said, “Open the door for me.” Ananse opened the door, and Akwasi went out. And the spider rose up and went into the room there.

He said, “Aso, did you not hear what your husband said?”

She replied, “What did he say?”

Ananse replied, “He said I must rise up and make love to you.”

Aso said, “You don’t lie.”

And he did it for her, and he went and lay down.

That night Akwasi rose up nine times. The spider also went nine times to where Aso was. When things became visible next morning, Ananse went off.

It would be about two moons later when Aso’s belly became large. Akwasi questioned her, saying, “Why has your belly got like this? Perhaps you are ill, for you know that I who live with you here am unable to beget children.” Aso replied, “You forget that man who came here whom you told to rise up and make love to Aso. Well, he took me and I have conceived by him.”

Akwasi-the-Jealous-One said, “Rise up, and let me take you to go and give you to him.” They went to the sky-god’s town. On the way Aso gave birth. They reached the sky-god’s town and Akwasi went and told the sky-god what had happened, saying, “A subject of yours whom you sent slept at my house and took Aso, and she has conceived by him.”

The sky-god said, “All of my subjects are roofing the huts. Go and point out the one you mean.” They went off, and the spider was sitting on a ridge-pole.

Aso said, “There he is!” Then Ananse ran farther on.

And again Aso said, “There he is!” Then Ananse fell down from up there where he was sitting.

Now that day was Friday. Ananse said, “I, who wash the sky-god’s soul - you have taken your hand and pointed it at me, so that I have fallen down and got red earth on me.” Immediately the attendants seized hold of Akwasi-the-Jealous-One and made him sacrifice a sheep. When Akwasi-the-Jealous-One had finished sacrificing the sheep, he said to the sky-god, “Here is the woman; let Ananse take her.” So Ananse took Aso, but as for the infant, they killed it, cut it into pieces, and scattered them about.

That is how jealousy came among the tribe.

*

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