I love Sleepy Hollow and I’ve been an avid fan of the show since I watched its trailer prior to its 2013 premier. The whole show revolves around two witnesses- Abbie and Ichabod- as foretold in the book of Revelations, who must thwart the forces of evil, primarily Moloch and his four evil horsemen and, you guessed it, save the world…nothing remotely Ghanaian about this premise, right?
So imagine my surprise and genuine pleasure when, during episode 9 of season 2, Jenny, Abbie’s rebellious sister, recites a spell to save her …wait for it…in Twi!!!
Listen to it below.
(Lindie Greenwood speaks Twi)
Transcription of what Jenny bravely says:
Odaadaafoo ma Asantefoo
Mesre wo, beyi yen firi
Nneema dada yi ase
Firi yen so
Translation of what Jenny bravely said:
Spirit of Ananse
Deceiver for the people of Asante
I implore you, deliver us
From these deceitful things
Away from us
Was her accent crude, totally but understandable; imagine me trying to read Mandarin the first time I encounter it. I was definitely amused and I give her 6 out of 10 for effort. But this is where the fun ended for me. Jenny (Lyndie Greenwood) explains to her male companion that the spell “is a West African invocation to expel witch doctors who have arisen from the dead”.
I blanched in shock. Because that is not what I was taught in school, read, or watched, about Kwaku Ananse. But then again, this is Hollywood; what exactly was I expecting?
i iAccording to Akan traditional folklore, Kwaku Ananse is a trickster, usually portrayed as either a spider or a lazy man who gets by purely on his wit and cunning. He is also mostly greedy. So while his wit and cunning may save him from some dicey situations, his greed mostly leads to his downfall and humiliation. Therefore, whenever Ananse makes an appearance in a tale, it is purely to teach kids the importance of moral values, like Aesop did with his fables.
So why was he being referenced in an occult context? A quick online search exposes myriad variations and distortions of Kwaku Ananse’s story.
According to Marvel Comics, Kwaku Ananse is the son of Nyambe (real name is Nyame-Sky God) and Asaase Yaa (the Earth Goddess). His siblings include Ogun (they don’t mention this but Ogun is Nigerian in origin, the Igbo god of Iron and patron of boys. He is portrayed as a demonic and villainous entity who wants control of Earth), while he has Mawu as an aunt; Mawu means God among the Ewes of Ghana by the way. According to Akan folklore, Kwaku Ananse has a wife, Aso, and four children; Big head, Skinny, Big belly and Ntikuma. Marvel makes no mention of them, rather making up other characters as his children. Together, Ananse’s divine family, all sporting pieces of clothing around their loins and mohawks, ‘are a race of extra-dimensional beings still worshipped as gods by the tribes of Africa and by modern-day practitioners of Voodoo’.
Ananse is a superhuman, Class 25, thus allowing him superhuman strength and the ability to swing from trees as a human spider. He is the ‘African’ equivalent of Prometheus, bringing civilization and farming to Earth. He is also a benevolent being who created day and night –and is accompanied by a blind dog, Coltrane, who can sniff out bugs.
EVOLUTION OF ANANSESEM (ANANSE STORIES) WITH SOME DISTORTION
Note how a tiger is part of the story when tigers are not indigenous to Africa.
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