For those who had been taken from Africa, forbidden to speak their own language or practice their religion, and even stripped of their own names, folk tales provided a fragile link with a lost homeland. Guyanese author AJ Seymour has called these tales "the unregistered passengers" on the slave ships.

Naturally these tales did not remain static but were influenced by the new environment in which they were told. For example, the Brer Anancy story combines a west African word (Ananse, meaning spider) and the term Brer, a common abbreviation for brother in the American Baptist church. Similarly, characters like the rabbit who were originally just tricksters in the African stories took on a more specific role as they transferred to the new world, becoming the slave who uses his wits to overcome his oppressors.

Busha Bluebeard
Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby
Brer Anancy and Bredda Lion
Uncle Remus initiates the little boy


Busha Bluebeard is the wealthy owner of Cinnamon Hill Estate, hated and feared by all. Bluebeard has stolen from his neighbours, treated his workers quite shabbily and, there is little difference in his personal life. He has been married several times but his wives never enjoy the comforts of Cinnamon Hill for very long before they meet their untimely demise. Rumour has it he stores his riches in the cellar, but no one, not even Anancy, has been able to get access to the cellar.

The workers on the state are preparing for a "ring-ding" - a celebration of feast and dance. Mr. Crumple the Overseer and his nieces Primrose and Ann arrive in time for the festivities. Jackie, the hero of the village, immediately wins the attention of Primrose but Bluebeard appears and orders Jack off the property. Jack who has been done wrong by Bluebeard, hatches a plan with Anancy to retrieve his family's stolen jewels. During an engagement party for Primrose and Bluebeard, Jack tries to carry out the plan but is captured and taken to jail. With Bluebeard as the judge - it is certain that Jack is doomed.

As the wedding draws near, Primrose is not a happy bride to be, on the advice of Anancy she braves Bluebeard's displeasure and attempts to explore Bluebeard's secret dungeon. Jack, through Anancy's clever plan, escapes from prison - but does not gain his freedom. Once more Anancy comes to his rescue.

Meanwhile, Primrose having gained access to Bluebeard's dungeon sees him as he really is. Primrose is in great danger but Fate is kind and deliverance is at hand. The clouds lift, and romance long delayed has its day as once again Cinnamon Estate, with a new owner and in a new spirit, witnesses a wedding.

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One day Brer Fox thought of how Brer Rabbit had been cutting up his capers and bouncing around until he'd come to believe that he was the boss of the whole gang. Brer Fox thought of a way to lay some bait for that uppity Brer Rabbit.

folkHe went to work and got some tar and mixed it with some turpentine. He fixed up a contraption that he called a Tar-Baby. When he finished making her, he put a straw hat on her head and sat the little thing in the middle of the road. Brer Fox, he lay off in the bushes to see what would happen.

Well, he didn't have to wait long either, 'cause by and by Brer Rabbit came pacing down the road--lippity-clippity, clippity-lippity--just as sassy as a jaybird. Brer Fox, he lay low. Brer Rabbit came prancing along until he saw the Tar-Baby and then he sat back on his hind legs like he was astonished. The Tar-Baby just sat there, she did, and Brer Fox, he lay low.

"Good morning!" says Brer Rabbit, says he. "Nice weather we're having this morning," says he.

Tar-Baby didn't say a word, and Brer Fox, he lay low.

"How are you feeling this morning?" says Brer Rabbit, says he.

Brer Fox, he winked his eye real slow and lay low and the Tar-Baby didn't say a thing.

"What is the matter with you then? Are you deaf?" says Brer Rabbit, says he. "Cause if you are, I can holler louder," says he.
The Tar-Baby stayed still and Brer Fox, he lay low.

"You're stuck-up, that's what's wrong with you. You think you're too good to talk to me," says Brer Rabbit, says he. "And I'm going to cure you, that's what I'm going to do," says he.

Brer Fox started to chuckle in his stomach, he did, but Tar-Baby didn't say a word.

"I'm going to teach you how to talk to respectable folks if it's my last act," says Brer Rabbit, says he. "If you don't take off that hat and say howdy, I'm going to bust you wide open," says he.

Tar-Baby stayed still and Brer Fox, he lay low.

Brer Rabbit kept on asking her why she wouldn't talk and the Tar-Baby kept on saying nothing until Brer Rabbit finally drew back his fist, he did, and blip--he hit the Tar-Baby on the jaw. But his fist stuck and he couldn't pull it loose. The tar held him. But Tar-Baby, she stayed still, and Brer Fox, he lay low.

"If you don't let me loose, I'm going to hit you again," says Brer Rabbit, says he, and with that he drew back his other fist and blap--he hit the Tar-Baby with the other hand and that one stuck fast too.

Tar-Baby she stayed still, and Brer Fox, he lay low.

"Turn me loose, before I kick the natural stuffing out of you," says Brer Rabbit, says he, but the Tar-Baby just sat there.

She just held on and then Brer Rabbit jumped her with both his feet. Brer Fox, he lay low. Then Brer Rabbit yelled out that if that Tar-Baby didn't turn him loose, he was going to butt her crank-sided. Then he butted her and his head got stuck.

Brer Fox walked out from behind the bushes and strolled over to Brer Rabbit, looking as innocent as a mockingbird.

folk"Howdy, Brer Rabbit," says Brer Fox, says he. "You look sort of stuck up this morning," says he. And he rolled on the ground and laughed and laughed until he couldn't laugh anymore.

By and by he said, "Well, I expect I got you this time, Brer Rabbit," says he. "Maybe I don't, but I expect I do. You've been around here sassing after me a mighty long time, but now it's the end.

And then you're always getting into something that's none of your business," says Brer Fox, says he. "Who asked you to come and strike up a conversation with this Tar-Baby? And who stuck you up the way you are? Nobody in the round world. You just jammed yourself into that Tar-Baby without waiting for an invitation," says Brer Fox, says he. "There you are and there you'll stay until I fix up a brushpile and fire it up, "cause I'm going to barbecue you today, for sure," says Brer Fox, says he.

Then Brer Rabbit started talking mighty humble.

"I don't care what you do with me, Brer Fox, says he, "Just so you don't fling me in that briar patch. Roast me, Brer Fox, says he, "But don't fling me in that briar patch."

"It's so much trouble to kindle a fire," says Brer Fox, says he, "that I expect I'd better hang you," says he.

"Hang me just as high as you please, Brer Fox, says Brer Rabbit, says he, "but for the Lord's sake, don't fling me in that briar patch," says he.

"I don't have any string, " says Brer Fox, says he, "Now I expect I had better drown you, " says he.

"Drown me just as deep as you please, Brer Fox," says Brer Rabbit, says he, "But please do not fling me in that briar patch, " says he.

"There's no water near here," says Brer Fox, says he, "And now I reckon I'd better skin you," says he.

"Skin me Brer Fox," says he. "Snatch out my eyeballs, tear out my ears by the roots," says he, "But please, Brer Fox, don't fling me in that briar patch, " says he.

folkOf course, Brer Fox wanted to get Brer Rabbit as bad as he could, so he caught him by the behind legs and slung him right in the middle of the briar patch. There was a considerable flutter when Brer Rabbit struck the bushes, and Brer Fox hung around to see what was going to happen.

By and by he heard someone call his name and 'way up on the hill he saw Brer Rabbit sitting cross-legged on a chinquapin log combing the tar pitch out of his hair with a chip. Then Brer Fox knew he had been tricked.

Brer Rabbit hollered out, "Born and bred in the briar patch. I was born and bred in the briar patch!" And with that he skipped out just as lively as a cricket in the embers of a fire.

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Bredda Lion had a new bad habit that he felt was his right an privilege, being the most feared in the village. He developed the biggest belch in the whole village. Every time he ate and went to sleep at night, he would belch really loud all night and wake up the rest of the village.

folkAnancy loved to sleep. Next to food sleep was the next thing he loved in the whole world. Since Lion had developed this habit he has not gotten one night's sleep. Last night was the worst. Lion had belched every hour on the hour, since 8 pm that night. Anancy’s eyes were blood shot red and he was angry.

He visited Bredda Rabbit and Bredda Snake to see how they were holding up. "Bredda Rabbit, how yuh doing man?" asked Anancy, as he approached Bredda Rabbit outside his home.

"Mi doing just fine." replied Bredda Rabbit.

"Yuh getting any sleep since Lion start dem big belchin?" asked Bredda Anancy.

"Yeah man, nuff sleep since mi buy dem ear muffs whey Bredda Snake tell me bout down a shop." he replied.

"Ear muffs!" Anancy exclamated.

"Yes dem block out every sound, whey yuh nuh go buy some?" Bredda Rabbit explained.

"Is true." Anancy replied.

So he set off down to Mr. Lee's shop and bought him some ear muffs.

That night around 7:45 pm he put on the ear muffs and went to bed.

A large "Buuuurrrrrrrrrrp" sound awoke Anancy.

"But wait," he thought to himself "dem ear muffs nah work." You see, his spider senses were just as sensitive as his ears and could pick up the sound. The others in the village did not have this type of sense so the earmuff worked for them. So again Anancy had a sleepless night.The next morning he was very angry. He was so angry he walked over to Bredda Lion’s home to talk to him.

Anancy pleaded "Bredda Lion, Mi a beg yuh please stop de all nite belching. Mi cyaan get nuh sleep a nite."

"Yuh mad Anancy? A mi run tings in dis village, an mi will stop when mi feel like." Bredda Lion replied.

"But how yuh so bad mind. Nobady cyaan sleep wid all dat noise yuh a mek." said Anancy.

"Is ongle yuh cyaan sleep. No one else is complaining." replied Bredda Lion.

Anancy was getting really upset.

"Mind yuh belch out all the food you eat for the day while you sleeping." Anancy said in anger.

"Nuh mek me dead wid laff. Mi neva hear nuttin go suh before in my life. Gwan yuh way, Anancy" Bredda Lion replied with a big smile.

At that very moment Anancy had a plan. He secretly started to follow Bredda Lion for the whole day, watching what he was eating. He took a big bag with some containers with him. Every meal that Bredda Lion had, he collected some of the same thing in a container.

That night at 8:00pm, Bredda Anancy snuck into Bredda Lion's house under the bed. He waited to hear the first burp.


He snuck from under the bed and quietly placed a mixture of all the meals beside Bredda Lion’s mouth.

folkBredda Lion had a sensitive nose. The smell of the food mixture awoke him. He jumped out of the bed and screamed, "Lawd have mercy, all de food me eat come right back up. Whey me ago do? If this continue me will not be able to full mi stomach. I know what I will do. I will eat this mixture." So he ate the food and went back to sleep.

" Buuurrrp"

Again Anancy put some more food by his mouth. And again Lion woke up and ate the food.

This continued four times. On the fourth time he put food by his mouth, Anancy snuck out of Bredda Lion’s bedroom window. He crawled under the cellar to listen.

Bredda Lion ate the food but this time did not go back to sleep.

"Lawd mi belly a hat mi. Mi nuh know ef I can continue this belching business, cah mi cyaan sleep." Bredda Lion whispered under his breath. He had eaten so much food that he was in pain. He was unable to go back to sleep.

Anancy smiled and walked back home.

This is why lions eat big meals but less frequently. Jack Mandora, mi tell yuh no lie.

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One evening recently, the lady whom Uncle Remus calls “Miss Sally” missed her little seven-year-old. Making search for him through the house and through the yard, she heard the sound of voices in the old man’s cabin, and, looking through the window, saw the child sitting by Uncle Remus. His head rested against the old man’s arm, and he was gazing with an expression of the most intense interest into the rough, weather-beaten face, that beamed so kindly upon him. This is what “Miss Sally” heard:

“Bimeby, one day, atter Brer Fox bin doin’ all dat he could fer ter ketch Brer Rabbit, en Brer Rabbit bein doin’ all he could fer ter keep ’im fum it, Brer Fox say to hisse’f dat he’d put up a game on Brer Rabbit, en he ain’t mo’n got de wuds out’n his mouf tewl Brer Rabbit came a lopin’ up de big road, lookin’ des ez plump, en ez fat, en ez sassy ez a Moggin hoss in a barley-patch.

folk“‘Hol’ on dar, Brer Rabbit,’ sez Brer Fox, sezee.

“‘I ain’t got time, Ber Fox,’ sez Brer Rabbit, sezee, sorter mendin’ his licks.

“‘I wanter have some confab wid you, Brer Rabbit,’ sez Brer Fox, sezee.

“‘All right, Brer Fox, but you better holler fum whar you stan’. I’m monstus full er fleas dis mawnin’,’ sez Brer Rabbit, sezee.

“‘I seed Brer B’ar yistdiddy,’ sez Brer Fox, sezee, ‘en he sorter rake me over de coals kaze you en me ain’t make frens en live naberly, en I tole ’im dat I’d see you.’

“Den Brer Rabbit scratch one year wid his off hinefoot sorter jub’usly, en den he ups en sez, sezee:

“‘All a settin’, Brer Fox. Spose’n you drap roun’ ter-morrer en take dinner wid me. We ain’t got no great doin’s at our house, but I speck de ole ’oman en de chilluns kin sorter scarmble roun’ en git up sump’n fer ter stay yo’ stummick.’

“‘I’m ’gree’ble, Brer Rabbit,’ sez Brer Fox, sezee.

“‘Den I’ll ’pen’ on you,’ sez Brer Rabbit, sezee.

“Nex’ day, Mr. Rabbit an’ Miss Rabbit got up soom ’fo’ day, en raided on a gyarden like Miss Sally’s out dar, en got some cabbiges, en some roas’n years, en some sparrer-grass, en dey fix up a smashin’ dinner. Bimeby one er de little Rabbits, playin’ ou t in de back-yard, come runnin’ in hollerin’, ‘Oh, ma! oh, ma! I seed Mr. Fox a comin’!’ En den Brer Rabbit he tuck de chilluns by der years en make um set down, en den him and Miss Rabbit sorter dally roun’ waitin’ for Brer Fox. En dey keep on waitin’ for Brer Fox. En dey keep on waitin’, but no Brer Fox ain’t come. Atter ’while Brer Rabbit goes to de do’, easy like, en peep out, en dar, stickin’ fum behime de cornder, wuz de tip-een’ er Brer Fox tail. Den Brer Rabbit shot de do’ en sot down, en put his paws behime his years en begin fer ter sing:

“‘De place wharbouts you spill de grease,
Right dar you er boun’ ter slide,
An’ whar you fin’ a bunch er ha’r,
You’ll sholy fine de hide.’

“Nex’ day, Brer Fox sont word by Mr. Mink, en skuze hisse’f kaze he wuz too sick fer ter come, en he ax Brer Rabbit fer ter come en take dinner wid him, en Brer Rabbit say he wuz ’gree’ble.

“Bimeby, w’en de shadders wuz at der shortes’, Brer Rabbit he sorter brush up en sa’nter down ter Brer Fox’s house, en w’en he got dar, he haer somebody groanin’, en he look in de do’ an dar he see Brer Fox settin’ up in a rockin’-cheer all wrop up wid flannil, en he look mighty weak. Brer Rabbit look all roun’, he did, but he ain’t see no dinner. De dish-pan wuz settin’ on de table, en close by wuz a kyarvin’ knife.

“‘Look like you gwintee have chicken fer dinner, Brer Fox,’ sez Brer Rabbit, sezee.

“‘Yes, Brer Rabbit, deyer nice, en fresh, en tender, ‘sez Brer Fox, sezee.

“Den Brer Rabbit sorter pull hiss mustarsh, en say: ‘You ain’t got no calamus root, is you, Brer Fox? I done got so now dat I can’t eat no chicken ’ceppin she’s seasoned up wid calamus root.’ En wid dat Brer Rabbit lipt out er de do’ and dodge ’mong the bushes, en sot dar watchin’ for Brer Fox; en he ain’t watch long, nudder, kaze Brer Fox flung off de flannil en crope out er de house en got whar he could cloze in on Brer Rabbit, en bimeby Brer Rabbit holler out: ‘Oh, Brer Fox! I’ll des put yo’ calamus root out yer on dish yer stump. Better come git it while hit’s fresh,’ and wid dat Brer Rabbit gallop off home. En Brer Fox ain’t never kotch ’im yit, en w’at’s mo’, honey, he ain’t gwineter.”

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