Jamaican Stories

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

New Names (Samuel Christie, St, Ann's Bay)

Reading time: 4 minutes. Word Count: 400 words

This story about the new names is one of my favorite folktales - although it is pretty shocking! Do you think this is a story that is good for children? What impression do you think this story would make on a child?

There was four friends; one was Anansi, name of the other was Tiger, name of the other Tacoomah, name of the other Parrot. So they go for a journey, and Anansi bargain with them that the four mus' change their name an' when they come home, each one mus' go to their mudder house an' if their mudder call them the old name they mus' eat their mudder. So the new name,--Anansi name was Che-che-bun-da, Parrot new name was Green-corn-ero, Tiger name was Yellow-prissenda, Tacoomah name was Tacoomah-vengeance,--the four new name. Any mudder call them the ol' name, they mus' eat the mudder.

So they come to Tacoomah house first. Anansi say Tacoomah name 'Tacoomah-vengeance'. The mudder didn't understand the new name, so she say, "Look me pickney Tacoomah come!" An' kill Tacoomah mudder an' eat him. Second, 'em go to Tiger mudder. Anansi say Tiger name 'Yellow-prissenda'. So they fall upon Tiger mudder, eat her. So that night Anansi cry to excuse the night an' go over to his mudder house an' say, "Mudder, if you call me Anansi', dey will kill you! but de name 'Che-che-bun-da'." The next night they come to Parrot house. Anansi say Parrot name 'Green-corn-ero'. Eat Parrot mudder the same. At night, again Anansi cry excuse an' go to his mudder, say, "Mudder, las' night wha' me tell you say me name?" The mudder say, "Me pickney, you no name Anansi?" Anansi say, "Ma, coming here tomorrow night an' if you call me so they kill you! You mus' call me 'Che-che-bun-da'!" Ask his mudder again, "Wha' me tell you say yo' pickney name?" She say, "Anansi?" Anansi say, "No, mudder! dey kill you! Me name Che-che-bun-da, Che-che-bun-da, Che-che-bun-da, Che-che-bun-da!" Keep tell the name over an' over that the mudder no forget.

So the night now Anansi turn come and they come along singing,

"Anansi name a Che-che-bun-da,
Cherry-senda, Yellow-prissenda,
Parrot name a Green-corn-ero,
Cherry-senda, Yellow-prissenda,
Tiger name a Yellow-prissenda,
Cherry-senda, Yellow-prissenda,
Tacoomah name Tacoomah-vengeance,
Cherry-senda, Yellow-prissenda."

An' as Anansi mudder see Anansi coming an' the rest, say, "Look me pickney Che-che-bun-da!" Call the new name, so her life save, an' didn't eat Anansi mudder. Anansi make the bargain to feast on the others an' save his mudder!

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

  • how were the four friends going to test their mothers?
  • what happened to the mothers of Parrot, Tiger, Tacoomah?
  • how did Anansi's mother know what she was supposed to do?

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