NO TEARS FOR ANANSE (1968) [Feature]

Ghana (MIFF 1969 , Programme 34)
Director: Sam Aryeetey

Most Ghanaians know 'Anansesem' —the stories of Ananse. In Akan mythology, Kweku Ananse is the younger brother of Nyankopon, the great god of the sky. But Ananse is earthy, with an insatiable greed. He is a spider-man or man-spider personifying shrewdness and cunning. Always in mischief, his end is usually trouble or disgrace. Thus he is a figure of laughter and scorn.

We may see him, perhaps, as a survivor of the traditional fool of European folklore, a black Til Eulenspiegel. And, as in the days when tales of Til were told all over Western Europe, so the stories of Ananse are told in Ghana, where storytelling is still a popular entertainment.

In this adventure, Ananse plays dead so that his wife and son put him in a hut in the jungle. Thus he can sneak out at night and rob his own farm, exulting at having deceived his gluttonous family. Until his son finds out . . .

The first feature from the new film industry of Ghana is disarming in its simplicity and refreshing for its lack of mannerisms. Its actors overplay in accordance with the tradition of morality tales, speaking in a mixture of Ghanaian, English and American slang. The overall effect is both exotic and naive, yet a microcosm, with the ring of ethnic truth, of much that is modern Ghana.

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