Jamaican Stories

Week 8: African Traditions - Assignments - Reading - Resources - Images

Cunnie-More-Than-Father (George Parkes, Mandeville)

Reading time: 5 minutes. Word Count: 500 words

In this story, the relationship between Anansi and his son, Cunnie-More-Than-Father (More Cunning Than Father) breaks out into a long and elaborate contest - a contest to the death.

Anansi has seven children. He ask them how they would like to name. Six of them like different name, but one boy say he would like to name "Cunnie-mo'-than father." So for every tack Anansi put up, Cunnie-mo'n-father break it down. One time he work a groun' very far away into the bush, an' in going to that bush he pass a very broad flat rock. So one day a man give him a yam-plant; that yam name "yam foofoo." The same day plant the yam, it been bear a very big one same day. So nobody in the yard know the name of that yam save him, Anansi, alone.

So when he go home, he cook the yam an' call the wife an' chil'ren aroun' to eat, an' say, "Who know name, nyam; who no know name, don' nyam!" So as no one know the name, they didn't get none of it; Anansi alone eat off that yam that night. The nex' day go back to the groun' and the yam bear a larger one. He bring it home an' bile it again, call the wife an' chil'ren an' say, "Who know name, nyam; who no know name, don' nyam!" The nex' day he went back an' the yam bear a larger one than the previous day. He cut it an' carry it home, cook it, call up the wife an chil'ren; he alone eat it.

Cunnie-mo'n-father say, "Look here! I mus' fin' out the name of that yam!" He got some okra an' went to the place where the broad rock is an' mash up the okra an' have the place quite slippery, an' hide himself away in the bush near by. Anansi now coming with a larger yam this time. As he reach to the rock, he make a slide, fa' down, an' the yam smash. He said, "Lawd! all me yam foofoo mash up!" Cunnie-mo'-n-father now catch the name, an' he ran home now an' tell mother an' other chil'ren, "Remember! yam foofoo!" Anansi then take up the pieces, put them together and carry home. He cook it an' ca' all of them roun' to eat. He say, "Who know name, nyam; who no know name, no nyam." They began to guess all sort of name; after that, whole of them say, "Yam foofoo! yam foofoo!" Anansi get vex, say, "Huh! eat! nobody fin' it out but Cunnie-mo'n-father!"

Anansi then get to hate Cunnie-mo'n-father, want to make an end of him, but he didn't know what way was to do it. So one night Brar Tiger came to pay a visit to Anansi at his house. While both of them sittin' an' talkin', at that time Cunnie-mo'n-father was lying down underneath the table fawning sleep. Anansi said to Tiger, "Look heah! ev'ry tack dat I put up, Cunnie-mo'-n-father break it down. I wan' to mak an end of him, but I don' know what way to do it." That time, Cunnie-mo'-n-father listen. Tiger said, "I wi' kill him fo' you." Anansi say, "How you will manage it?" So Tiger said to Anansi, "You mus' put up a tack, an' I wi' ketch him."

Questions. Make sure you can answer these questions about what you just read:

  • how did Anansi get to eat all the yams himself?
  • how did Cunnie-mo'n-father find out the name of the yam?
  • how did Anansi feel about his son Cunnie-mo'n-father?

Source: Jamaica Anansi Stories by Martha Warren Beckwith (1924). Weblink.

Modern Languages / Anthropology 3043: Folklore & Mythology. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License. You must give the original author credit. You may not use this work for commercial purposes. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a license identical to this one.
Page last updated: October 9, 2004 12:52 PM