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Arts Toolkit

Arts Toolkit: Drama Video Clips

West African: Anansi’s Rescue from the River



In certain West African cultures, Anansi the spider is said to be the owner of all the stories in the world. He is the central character of this “why” story, retold by Mama Yaa (Gloria Bivens), from the Ashanti people of Ghana. It tells the story of how the moon came to be in the night sky: While on a journey deep in the forest, Anansi is eaten by a great fish, and his six sons, who each possess a special power, come to his rescue. Anansi wants to reward them with the gift of a great light, but the sons’ bickering over who is most deserving of the gift leads Anansi to make a different decision.

Suggested Uses:

  • Use to discuss similarities/differences between storytelling and acting.
  • Show as an example of a “why” story. Compare it to another “why” story in the Drama Arts Toolkit, “The Buzzard and the Monkey.”
  • Use this story as a prompt for encouraging students to write their own “why” stories.
  • Use in conjunction with the video segments “Gospel Train,” “Go Rabbit,” and “Rosebud Trinidad” from Old Music for New Ears and “Little Johnny Brown” from the KET series Dancing Threads to explore how music, dance, and drama help define specific groups and reflect unique histories, situations, and perspectives.
  • Have students research/read other Anansi stories and compare them.

For more information:

(These links may leave the Arts Toolkit.)

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