Tuesday, May 03, 2022

Soul Insurance

A covidious folktale, call it a people's history...

I. Ananse and the Chief's Scribe


Once again, Nyame found himself displeased with all of humanity
Not atypically, the immediate reason was lost in the mist of time
But had something to do, he recalled, with a lack of integrity
Furious, he called upon the claims adjuster to deal with the crime

All the chosen tribes were agitated and concerned as he drew near
For the adjuster was known in those parts to be rather severe
He would bestow calamity freely, as if it was all part of the package
Enjoying his grisly work with a zeal you could only describe as savage

In the past, the plagues and famines he'd inflicted were entirely without reason
And, even in these modern times where we'd long eschewed hunger season,
Had been known to last for up to three years, devastating and hard to manage
There would surely be what the linguists now called collateral damage

Ananse saw the opportunity, in this upheaval, to make a quick buck
With these feckless humans, it usually paid to try one's luck
So many of their number had herd immunity to shame
That he saw it as an obligation to play a shell game

He made his way to Wiase, the hometown of the Usher tribe
Sidling along, as was his wont, and came up to the chief's scribe
"Tell your Okyeame that I, Ananse the Spider, have a solution to your problem
That, if you grant me an audience with him, I will endeavor to describe"

It was "a breach of protocol", the scribe said, "I pray you desist
For you must first make your representation to the chief linguist
One doesn't approach the chief's scribe like a traveling salesman
Peddling Schnapps and palm wine willy-nilly, and without a plan"

Ananse chuckled inside, these people and their bureaucracy
So fixated on minor things they rather embodied useful idiocy
Couldn't they see that things were urgent, that there was no time to waste?
Oh well, he could play their game, they could lie in their bed of disgrace

So he kept quiet, it always paid to keep a straight face
And disguise one's purpose, the watchword was dissimulate
"My dear Scribe, for my haste and lack of decorum, I must apologize
I can see clearly how my intemperent ways would leave you scandalized"

"Rest assured, I beseech you, I will not repeat my faux pas
Please accept as an apology this serving of foie gras
I would be doubly grateful, if you could direct me to the linguist
So that I can make a proper approach, I am only here to assist"

He made to also add a bottle of Schnapps as he handed over the package
A little liquor was known to lubricate things with these savages
There was a little contretemps as the scribe paused to assess his booty
And made a considered show of possibly requiring additional tax duties

At length, the scribe grudgingly acquiesced, although he feigned being rather fatigued
Viewed with Ananse's typically discerning eyes, you could tell the man was intrigued
He summoned a small boy unit, a cheeky youth, his man Friday
"Take this visitor back there yonder to the linguist, use the back way"

As he took his leave of the scribe, there was a rumbling in the distance
He asked the youth, Fifi, to explain the cause of the disturbance
It was the talking drums sounding the rhythmic cry, albeit rather unhurried
Considering the message that they were conveying: Observers are worried



Observers are worried


Tribes, Vibes and Scribes, a playlist


Incognito provide the soundtrack to the first offering from this folktale and people's history, the aptly named Tribes, Vibes and Scribes, a delicious slice of Acid Jazz released on Talkin' Loud when that label could do no wrong. In the vein of George Duke, Roy Ayers, and Stevie Wonder (quite literally with their cover of Don't You Worry 'bout a Thing), Maysa Leak's vocals meshed wonderfully with the instrumental tracks. Soul inflected insurance in prospect, a great meeting of minds.

Soul Insurance (Index)


A covidious folktale
  1. Ananse and the Chief's Scribe
  2. Enter the Claims Adjuster
  3. An Audience with the Linguist
  4. Pity the Mink
  5. Short Sale


Image by Tim Little

This folktale is part of a series: In a covidious time.

Next: Enter the Claims Adjuster

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Writing log: Part 1 March 21, 2021

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