In the hidden parts of a world that was beginning to be stolen brick by brick, person by person, lived a God. I was that God. Not a capital G type of God. I couldn’t create thunder or smite the wicked or even really make grass grow. But I did have a power that made men and women and gods alike quake in my presence.
I was Anansi, God of stories.
People far and wide would come to me seeking answers and help with their own tales.
“My wife disappeared,” men would say, “help me find her.” or “There is a beast whose hide no arrow can pierce, help me kill him.” or more and more of late “There is a wooden demon hunting our shores who swallows tribes whole before disappearing out to sea. Help us!”
And if I was feeling particularly tricky that day I might even point you in the right direction. But be warned. I was not like the gods your parents tell tale of. I was a trickster. A God that fell in love with the unexpected. That took glee from putting the world on its head. I was a spider that caught animals too large to ever have been caught in any web.
Many men have died failing to see the trick in my eyes.
But I wasn’t all bad either for where was the trick in being all of anything? I cared about his people, about their stories. I cared about what was taking them.
So, I journeyed far past where any spider had gone before. I journeyed past the savannahs and the watering-hole and even beyond the last acacia tree until I came to find myself in front of the great waters which no God had ever crossed.
And I saw what was happening to my stories, to my people.
They were being stolen by men far too light-skinned to belong on this continent. I saw my tales hiding deep in the hearts and throats of my people as they were loaded on the great wooden beasts - ships, I realized - in chains and shackles.
I watched as one by one my stories, my livelihood disappeared from my land and a rage unlike any I had felt before filled my chest until I did something not even a trickster God dared to do. I began to care. I found myself scurrying up the rope tethering the great ship to the dock and slipped down into the ship’s belly. I scurried past rows and rows of men, women, and children calling out in all the languages of Africa for their gods and goddess to help them. Their gods might not have shown up, but I did. I scurried until I found the lock from which all the chains unraveled and slipped down besides it to begin to pick it, paying no mind to the too keen-eyed woman who was chained before me. I should have paid more attention to her, for even a trickster can be tricked.
But I was too late.
With a mighty heave the ship pushed off from the bay and my people, now slaves, were carried far beyond their shores. I did what I did best, I hid among the lines of my people and waited. I waited as many died around me, their stories belonging to the sea now. I waited as whips marked my people as their own. I waited and shriveled and grew weaker and weaker as all the stories there seemed to be died around me.
But I was lucky - or unlucky, depending on how you see it - for I survived what many before me had died until a new world was reached. A world unlike any other. A world brimming at the seams with untold magic and tales. A world where a God of stories could grow fat with tales that have never passed the lips of man.
I feasted upon the new world’s stories. I feasted as I was sold, along with the too keen-eyed woman to a plantation hidden half away from the eyes of God. I feasted as I was put to work in the sugarcane fields along with hundreds of others from lands far past their own. I feasted as their languages were stolen and new graves were dug. I feasted as children were born and died. I feasted as the land beneath me turned on the masters as more and more slaves came to call it home. And when the time was right, I struck.
I was the God of stories after all and this was my tale.