African Studies | Topics in African Studies
L400 | 29014 | Adu-Amankwah, David

Ananse as an African (Akan) Folk Hero

The Spider (called “Kwaku Ananse” in Akan expressive culture) is the
trickster of the Akan people of West Africa, and, as to be expected
of tricksters (who are often considered as culture heroes), he
breaks traditional rules through tricks or thievery. He is both
cunning and foolish and often funny. L400 explores the concept
of “Folk Hero/Trickster” in Africa, with special emphasis on the
Akan tradition of story-telling. Since Trickster tales tend to have
some features in common but may perform different functions in
various societies, the second half of the course is devoted to the
socio-semiotic study of selected tales to determine the origins and
purposes of Akan folktales (called “Anansesem”¾literally, “the
stories/matters of Ananse, the spider”) and the various strategies
that Ananse employs. At the end of the course students will have a
clear intellectual understanding of the African (Akan) story-telling
tradition and the role of the trickster, especially Ananse, the
spider, in the traditional society.