Saturday, January 21, 2017

Ticky-Ticky' QUEST: A truly Caribbean story

As the son of one of Jamaica's folkloric heroes, (the other is the risqué Big Boy) Ticky-Ticky is the pet name for Intikuma, Anansi's youngest son. ( His story is published in a book titled "Ticky-Ticky's Quest" and introduced  as the following:

 "Ticky-Ticky is a twelve-year-old with a secret: He is the youngest son of the infamous trickster Anansi the Spider-man. Hiding in the human world, Ticky-Ticky fears his father’s enemies will recognize and punish him for being the butt of Anansi’s embarrassing pranks. Now, the joke’s on Ticky-Ticky.  A school incident forces him to follow his missing father’s footsteps on a dangerous quest across time and reality. Riding a magical ghost-bat canoe with a dog of the dead as his guide, Ticky-Ticky encounters Anansi’s folkloric foes out for revenge. After a lifetime of avoiding his father’s legacy, can Ticky-Ticky find his father before he loses his life or even worse: becomes just like him?"

How important is Ticky-Ticky's Quest: Part 1 Caribbean folklore?

Although the Anansi family is from the Asanti (Ashanti) of Ghana, most of the stories told in the Caribbean island are typically Jamaican in flavor. Because of their location in an Amerindian island with strong indigenous Yamaye Taino influences, some stories specifically employ local fauna and flora ("Anansi and the Yam Hills", "Why Johncrow Have a Ballhead"--i.e. Turkey Vulture of the Americas). Jamaican Anansi stories reflect this history of European, African and Taino realities that are the result of the creation of a slave society, literally built on the backs of the island's earliest inhabitants, who were Yamaye.

We must first examine the Akan (Ghanaian) influences of the Maroons, some of their outstanding Asanti leaders (Cujo, Nanny, et al) after the 1665 British takeover of Jamaica, and accept the reality of the first Cimarrones who taught the later arriving sugar plantation escapees how to survive in an alien geography. An unquestionable example of Yamaye influence is exemplified by borrowed knowledge and usage of endemic bush medicine pharmacology. Added to this evidence of local indigenous influence (the Yamaye) is the Amerindian phenotype and possible DNA, as can be seen in 19th century Morant Bay Rebellion photographs (earlier blog on Honoring the Taino).

The AnansiStories And The Taino Tales As Mythology
AnansiStories and those of the Taino are part of an ancient mythology that is rooted in West African and Caribbean folklore and concerns the interaction between divine and semi-divine beings, royalty, humans, animals, plants and seemingly inanimate objects. These stories continue to provide a moral foundation for the community. Anansi the Spiderman and Guahayona the Shaman existed from the time when deities, humans and animals were able to converse with each other. 

The book, MYTHOLOGY, The Illustrated Anthology Of World Myth & Storytelling, states that "Myths are the timeless expression of the imagination -- a continuous creative process of making sense of the universe."
Also, "Myths can be understood as magic mirrors in which the reflection not just of our hopes and fears, but also those of people from the earliest times can be viewed. Some of these stories are unimaginably old and almost certainly recounted long before the birth of writing and the dawn of recorded history."

Traditional storytellers did not use the term "trickster" to describe their folkloric heroes. They used local names for their characters. More recently, tales like the AnansisStories have been placed in the Trickster Hero genre of mythology. As a trickster, the main character often deceives and exploits his fellow creatures
for his own benefit. "Tricksters will themselves be duped and humbled. And however selfish and course they are, their antics provoke affectionate laughter, while their quick wits and mystic power inspire awe."