| After his father died, Garcia spent most of
his time with his maternal grandfather.
From his grandfather, he learned to identify strongly
with his African heritage.
His grandfather was also the reason that Garcia started
collecting stories. While
Garcia was still in his twenties his grandfather became
gravely ill. In
pain, the old man wished to die but was unable to do so.
Someone in the village told Garcia that the reason
he could not die was that he still possessed knowledge that
had to be shared. Garcia
proceeded to collect his grandfather’s knowledge, and, when
he had finished, the old man died.
reverts to spider form to elude capture.
continued to collect tales after his grandfather’s
death out of a desire to “rescue” and maintain the African
culture of Ecuador. With
the help of a grant from the Inter-American Foundation,
he has traveled up and down the rivers of Ecuador and
to the Chota Valley filling over fifteen hundred cassette
tapes with stories and poetry.
Now fifty years old, he is the only person in Ecuador
who has extensively collected Afro-Ecuadorian oral tradition.
In 1992, Garcia participated in the Maroon component
of the Smithsonian Institution’s Festival of American
Folklife. On a video produced the same year by Arlington
Education Television-AETV, he comments that one of the
highlights of his experience at the festival was a storytelling
session with Maroon descendants from Suriname, Colombia,
French Guiana, Jamaica, Mexico, and Texas.
Each told round after round of Anansi stories in
his own language: Spanish, English, French, and four creole
of the stories were the same, some were new, and all had
the essential qualities of a traditional African Anansi
Anansi stories are trickster tales. They came to the Americas from the Akan people
of Ghana. In the
Akan stories, Anansi is a spider.
In the Americas, the stories evolved to the point
that Anansi is sometimes a spider and sometimes a man.
When he gets in trouble as a man, he often reverts
to his spider form and hides. In most of the stories he dupes other animals in a good-natured
way, and other times he is duped.
Folklorists agree that, allowing for some changes
that occurred because of cultural encounters in the areas
where the Africans were living, the Anansi stories remain
Anansi tales can be found in significant numbers everywhere
Africans ended up in the Americas, except in the United