Jamaican Stories

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

The Substitute (George Parkes, Mandeville)

Reading time: 6 minutes. Word Count: 600 words

Although this story is called "The Substitute" in Beckwith's collection, you probably know it as the story of Bre'r Rabbit and the Tar Baby.

Tacoomah is Anansi friend an' neighbor, live very near in one house but different apartment, so whenever one talk the other can hear. Anansi an' Tacoomah both of them work groun' together at one place. Anansi don't wait upon his food till it is ripe, but dig out an' eat it. Tacoomah wait until it fit to eat it. After Anansi eat off his own, he turn to Tacoomah an' begin to t'ief it. Every morning Tacoomah go, he find his groun' mashed up. He said, "Brar Nansi, tak care a no you deh mash up me groun' a nighttime!" Anansi said, "No-o, Brar, but if you t'ink dat a me deh t'ief a yo' groun' a night-time, you call me t'-night see if me no 'peak to you."

Tacoomah went to his groun' and get some tar an' tar a 'tump an' lef' it in de center of de groun'. Now night come, Anansi get a gourd, fill it wid water, bore a hole underneat' de gourd jus' as much as de water can drop tip, tip, tip. He cut a banana-leaf an' put it underneat' de gourd so de water could drop on it. After dey bot' went to bed, every now and again Tacoomah called out and Anansi say, "Eh!" Afterward Anansi say, "Me tired fe say 'eh', me wi' say 'tip'." So Anansi put de gourd of water up on a stand wid de banana-leaf underneat', so when Tacoomah say, "Anansi?" de water drop "tip." An' at dis time Anansi gone to de groun'.

He saw de black 'tump which Tacoomah tar an' lef' in de groun'. So Anansi open his right han' an' box de 'tump. His right han' fasten. He said to de 'tump, "If you no let me go I box you wid de lef' han'!" He box him wid de lef', so bot' han' fasten now. He say now, "Den you hol' me two han'? If you not le' me go I kick you!" He then kick the 'tump an' the right foot fasten first. He kick it with the lef' foot an' the lef' foot fasten too. He say, "Now you hol' me two han' an' me two foot! I gwine to buck you if you don' le' go me han' an' foot!" He den buck de 'tump an' his whole body now fasten on de 'tump. He was deh for some minutes.

He see Goat was passing. He said, "Brar Goat, you come heah see if you kyan't more 'an we t'-day." So Goat come. Anansi say, "Brar Goat, you buck him!" Goat buck de 'tump; Anansi head come off an' Goat head fasten. He said, "Brar Goat, you kick him wid you two foot!" An' Goat kick him an' Anansi two han' come off an' Goat two foot fasten. He said, "Brar Goat, now you push him!" Goat push him, an' Anansi two foot come off an' Anansi free an' Goat fasten. So Anansi go back home an' say to Tacoomah, "Me tired fe say 'tip', now; me wi' say 'eh'."

In de morning, bot' of dem went to groun'. Anansi say, "Brar Tacoomah, look de fellah deh t'ief yo' groun', dat fe' a Goat!" Goat say, "No, Brar Tacoomah, Anansi lirs' fasten on de 'tump heah an' he ask me fe buck him off!" Anansi say, "A yaie, sah!" an' say, "Brar Tacoomah, no me an' you sleep fe de whole night an' ev'ry time yo' call me, me 'peak to you?" Tacoomah say yes. He say Tacoomah, "Mak we ki' de fallah Goat!" So dey kill Goat an' carry him home go an' eat him.

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

  • how did Anansi fool Tacoomah into thinking he stayed at home all night?
  • how did Anansi get stuck? how did he get free?
  • how did he convince Tacoomah that Goat was really the thief?

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