Anansi and the Turtle

Home » Anansi and the Turtle
Print Friendly, PDF & Email
A turtle crawling in dry grass

Anansi and the turtle

An African story

This is an African story about Anansi the spider and Turtle. One day, Anansi the spider picked some yams from his garden. They were extra beautiful delicious yams, so he baked them carefully in the fire. Then he sat down to eat them up.

Turtle is hungry

Just as Anansi was about to put the first bite in his mouth, he heard a knock on his door. “Oh, no!” thought Anansi. “Who can that be?” But he opened the door. There was Turtle, who looked very tired. Turtle said, “Anansi, please let me in. I’ve walked so far today, and I’m so tired and hungry.” So what could Anansi do but let him in?

Anansi doesn’t want to share

But Anansi was too selfish to share his beautiful delicious yams with anybody else, even a guest. So he came up with a nasty plan. Just as Turtle sat down at the table and began to reach for some yams, Anansi yelled at him, “Turtle, your hands are all dirty! You can’t eat with your hands all dirty! Go wash them.” Turtle’s hands really were dirty, from walking on them all day. So Turtle slowly crawled to the river and washed his hands, and then slowly crawled back to the table.

But meanwhile Anansi started gobbling up the yams. By the time Turtle got back, the yams were half gone. And just as Turtle sat down and reached for the yams again, Anansi started yelling again, “Turtle, your hands are still dirty! Go wash them again!” And they were dirty, because Turtle used them to crawl back from the river. Sadly, Turtle got up and went to wash his hands again.

Anansi eats up all the yams

By the time Turtle had crawled all the way back, he saw that greedy Anansi had eaten up the other half of the yams, and the yams were all gone. Turtle looked at Anansi and said, “Thank you for inviting me to dinner. If you’re ever near my house, please come by and let me return the favor.” And Turtle began crawling slowly away to his house. But that’s not the whole story of Anansi and the Turtle. You can find out how Turtle got Anansi back.

You might want to compare this Anansi story to the Br’er Rabbit stories, or to the Roman story of Baucis and Philemon.

How Turtle got Anansi back
Other Anansi stories

Bibliography and further reading about African literature:

African languages and literature
Ancient Africa
Quatr.us home

By |2018-04-12T10:10:20+00:00May 21st, 2017|Africa, Literature|0 Comments
Cite this page: Carr, K.E. Anansi and the Turtle. Quatr.us Study Guides, May 21, 2017. Web. December 18, 2018.

About the Author:

Dr. Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.

Leave A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.