It was unsafe
to travel across the swamp because panthers, leopards,
crocodiles, and poisonous snakes protected the thicket.
But Anansi changed himself into a tiny spider—no
bigger than a grain of rice—and spun a web through the
thicket avoiding the animals and snakes.
He spun along the coarse grass in the savanna. Finally he came to a clearing.
There, in the middle of the clearing, stood a giant
Baobab tree, the mother of trees.
This baobab was a wisdom tree. She was not happy to see Anansi. The spider had been coming to visit her for
several weeks, eating her leaves and draining her wisdom. She pleaded with him to stop, because the loss
of too many leaves had made her ill, but Anansi would
not listen. “You talk nonsense,” the spider shouted as
he ate a leaf from the wisdom tree.
“It is midday now.
I must hurry back before nightfall so I can share
my wisdom. Heh,
heh, heh! People
are such foolish creatures,” laughed Anansi.
Time to stop playing the game. Once Anansi left the savanna and went back into the thicket, the
honey guide flew to the wisdom tree.
The bird asked if it could take one of her leaves
and show the chief what Anansi had done.
“Yes, you may,” said the giant baobab.
“Words of wisdom are easy to say and easy to forget,
but true friendship is long-lasting and never forgotten.”
The honey guide promised to be the wisdom tree’s friend
and took the leaf back to the chief.
The chief ate the leaf and realized that he and
his people must always protect the wisdom tree.
That evening, the chief and the people went to Anansi’s
house and summoned the spider.
Anansi, though puzzled why there was no drumbeat
to greet him, gleefully appeared at his doorway and began
announcing his proverb:
mouth of the wise one is in the wise one’s heart….
“Oh yes,” interrupted the chief, “but the heart of
the fool is in the fool’s mouth.”
Anansi was startled. How did the chief know that proverb? He continued: “It is the fool…” but the chief interrupted again,
“that does not know when it is time to stop playing the