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Anansi or Ananse ( ə-NAHN-see; literally translates to spider) is an Akan folktale character associated with stories, wisdom, knowledge, and trickery, most commonly depicted as a spider, in Akan folklore. Taking the role of a trickster, he is also one of the most important characters of West African, African American and West Indian folklore. Originating in Ghana, these spider tales were transmitted to the Caribbean by way of the transatlantic slave trade. Anansi is best known for his ability to outsmart and triumph over more powerful opponents through his use of cunning, creativity and wit. Despite taking on a trickster role, Anansi often takes centre stage in stories and is commonly portrayed as both the protagonist and antagonist. Origin Spider tales are found extensively throughout West Africa, but the Anansi tales originating from Ghana are among the best-known, as Anansi's name comes from the word in the Akan language for "spider". They later spread to the West Indies, Suriname, Sierra Leone (where they were introduced by Jamaican Maroons) and the Netherlands Antilles; also Curaçao, Aruba, and Bonaire. Anansi is depicted in many different ways and with different names, from "Ananse", "Kwaku Ananse", and "Anancy," to his New World iterations, such as "Ba Anansi",: 102–123  "Kompa Nanzi" and/or "Nanzi", "Nancy", "Aunt Nancy", and "Sis' Nancy", even though he is always depicted as a male in his stories. While often depicted as an animal, Anansi has many representations, which include an anthropomorphic spider with a human face, or conversely, a human with spider-like features, such as eight legs. Anansi also has a family in several folktales involving him, consisting of his long-suffering wife Okonore Yaa – known in other regions as Aso, Crooky, or Shi Maria; Ntikuma, his firstborn son; Tikelenkelen, his big-headed son; Nankonhwea, his son with a spindly neck and spindly legs; finally, Afudohwedohwe, his pot-bellied son. Anansi also has a beautiful daughter named Anansewa in other tales, like those introduced in the work of Efua Sutherland: in Efua's tale, he embarks on a mission to ensure that Anansewa can have an appropriate suitor.It is said that Odomankoma (¿) is also known as Ananse Kokuroko (meaning Great Spider), who might be Ananse. But this could actually be chalked up to the two being relatives. It is said in some Akan myths that Ananse becomes the creator, so it could be either roles changing similar to Bobowissi becoming the God of Lightning after Tano Akora's role is changed from the God of Lightning to the God of War after fighting with Owuo, or Odomankoma's sunsum being reincarnated inside of Ananse after Owuo kills him, supported by how sunsum works (via the father). Social relevance Anansi stories were part of an exclusively oral tradition, and Anansi himself was seen as synonymous with skill and wisdom in speech. Stories of Anansi became such a prominent and familiar part of Ashanti oral culture that they eventually encompassed many kinds of fables, evidenced by the work of R.S. Rattray, who recorded many of these tales in both the English and Twi languages, as well as the work of scholar Peggy Appiah: "So well known is he that he has given his name to the whole rich tradition of tales on which so many Ghanaian children are brought up – anansesem – or spider tales." In similar fashion, oral tradition is what introduced Anansi tales to the rest of the world, especially the Caribbean, via the people that were enslaved during the Atlantic slave trade. As a result, the importance of Anansi socially did not diminish when slaves were brought to the New World. Instead, Anansi was often celebrated as a symbol of slave resistance and survival, because Anansi is able to turn the tables on his powerful oppressors by using his cunning and trickery, a model of behaviour used by slaves to gain the upper hand within the confines of the plantation power structure. Anansi is also believed to have played a multifunctional role in the slaves' lives; as well as inspiring strategies of resistance, the tales enabled enslaved Africans to establish a sense of continuity with their African past and offered them the means to transform and assert their identity within the boundaries of captivity. As historian Lawrence W. Levine argues in Black Culture and Consciousness, enslaved Africans in the New World devoted "the structure and message of their tales to the compulsions and needs of their present situation" (1977, 90).The Jamaican versions of these stories are some of the best-preserved because Jamaica had the largest concentration of enslaved Ashanti in the Americas. Akin to their Ashanti origins, each of these stories carries its own proverb at the end. At the end of the story "Anansi and Brah Dead", there is a proverb that suggests that even in times of slavery, Anansi was referred to by his Akan original name: "Kwaku Anansi" or simply as "Kwaku" interchangeably with Anansi. The proverb is: "If yuh cyaan ketch Kwaku, yuh ketch him shut", which refers to when Brah Dead (brother death or drybones), a personification of Death, was chasing Anansi to kill him; its meaning: The target of revenge and destruction, even killing, will be anyone very close to the intended, such as loved ones and family members. However, like Anansi's penchant for ingenuity, Anansi's quintessential presence in the Diaspora saw the trickster figure reinvented through a multi-ethnic exchange that transcended its Akan-Ashanti origins, typified in the diversity of names attributed to these Anansi stories, from the "Anansi-tori" to the "Kuenta di Nanzi". Even the character "Ti Bouki," the buffoon constantly harassed by "Ti Malice" or "Uncle Mischief", a Haitian trickster associated with Anansi, references this exchange: "Bouki" itself is a word descending from the Wolof language that also references a particular folk animal (the hyena) indigenous to them. The same applies to Anansi's role in the lives of Africans beyond the era of slavery; New World Anansi tales entertain just as much as they instruct, highlight his avarice and other flaws alongside his cleverness, and feature the mundane just as much as they do the subversive. Anansi becomes both an ideal to be aspired toward, and a cautionary tale against the selfish desires that can cause our undoing.: 163–164  Anansi has effectively evolved beyond a mere trickster figure; the wealth of narratives and social influences have thus led to him being considered a classical hero. Popular Anansi stories Among many stories attached to Anansi and collected in literature, one explains how he became known as the owner of all stories in the world. It is so popular that it has been studied and republished alongside other stories many times, including as children's books, like the Caldecott Medal-winning A Story a Story by Gail E. Haley, which follows Akan oral tradition by beginning the tale with: "We do not really mean, we do not really mean that what we.... Discover the Nancy Stopper popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Nancy Stopper books.

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    Family Ties, Books 1-3

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    Family Ties Books 6-8

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    Chasing Hope

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    One Last Chance

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    Built to Last

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    Chasing Dreams

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    She thought she’d missed out on her dream… until she discovered a new one. Izzy Harper had it allthe career she’d dreamed of since she was a child and a man who loved her. Life w...

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    Chasing Trust

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    A guiltdriven firefighter, a widowed mother, neither is ready for love, but love has other plans. Firefighter Lucas Bennett had the carefree life he’d always wanted until a deadly...