The Greedy Spider

A Folktale from Ghana

Retold by Laura S. Sassi
Art by Christian Epanya



Ananse the spider was once a very greedy eater. Night and day he gobbled everything in sight, trying to fill his big round belly.

One morning Ananse met Elephant, who was stomping up the path. “I’m going to a feast,” Elephant said as he hurried on his way.

“Not without me!” Ananse replied, for he never missed a feast.

But just then Ananse saw Antelope trotting down the path in the other direction. “I’m going to a feast!” Antelope declared.

“Two feasts!” Ananse exclaimed, patting his belly. “How delightful!”

Then he frowned. “Which will begin first?” he wondered. “If I go to the wrong feast first, I might not get anything to eat!”

Ananse grew faint at such an idea, so he thought of a plan. He spun two threads and tied them around his middle. Then he called for two of his sons.

“Take these threads and hurry to the feasts!” Ananse commanded. “When it’s time to eat, pull hard and I will come!” He sent his sons scurrying in opposite directions.

At first Ananse waited patiently, but soon his belly began to rumble. “I want to eat!” he declared. “I want to eat now! I’m starving!”

Finally one son pulled his thread. “Hooray!” cheered Ananse.

Then the other son pulled his thread. “Oh no!” Ananse yelped as he bobbed back and forth between them. With every pull, Ananse’s fat belly got thinner and thinner. “Help!” he cried.

Alas, no one heard him. To this day Ananse’s waist is as slender as a pin. He no longer feasts night and day. Instead, he sadly snacks on the smallest of flies, for that is all he can squeeze through his tiny waist.