Anansi, Tekoma, and the Cow's Belly Folktale
Black History Month All Year Long
Anansi stories are culturally rooted in West Africa. In the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, many West African people were carried to the United States Virgin Islands. Their Caribbean lives were in many ways different from their African lives. Still they told stories, as they had in Africa, for entertainment and to teach lessons about life.
Anansi stories often teach more than one lesson. While you are reading the story, you might like to think about the different lessons that can be learned from Anansi, Tekoma, and the Cow's Belly.
The Virgin Islands Dutch Creole folktale called Anansi, Tekoma, and the Cow's Belly was collected by a Dutch anthropologist, J. P. B. de Josselin de Jong, who visited the U.S. Virgin Islands in 1923. De Josselin de Jong does not say who told him this story. However, we do know that all of the people who told him stories lived on St. Thomas and St. John and that they spoke both Dutch Creole and American Virgin Islands English.
Dr. Robin Sabino, a linguist at Auburn University, translated the story. Although she now lives in Alabama, she used to live in St. Thomas where she learned to speak Virgin Islands Dutch Creole from the very last speaker of the language. What a wonderful gift her teacher gave her.
See American Virgin Islands Creole PDF
DR. SABINO EXPLAINS:
Each line of the story is written first in Dutch Creole and then in English. Some of the Dutch Creole letters might look strange, but they are intended to help you pronounce the story correctly. When you see š, think of shh. The small e represents a sound like the first vowel in above. The vowel sound you hear in gate is written as ee in this story. Say e like the vowel in get. Words in ( ) are added to the translation so that it makes sense to English speakers. Those words aren't needed in Dutch Creole. Words in italics are borrowed from English.
Anansi is a spider who sometimes outsmarts his enemies and sometimes outsmarts himself. Anansi stories are culturally rooted in West Aftica. In the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, many West African people were carried to the Virgin Islands. Their Caribbean lives were in many ways different from their African lives. Still they told stories, as they had in Africa, for entertainment and to teach lessons about life.
Anasi is a spider...........
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