B'Rabby, B'Spider An' B' Booky
Jan. 30, 2023
The “old stories” or folklore of the Bahamas mostly concern personified animals in memorable adventures that are variations of American and British tales. In American lore animals are called “Brer.” Bahamian stories have contracted the name to “B.” The “Brer Rabbit” that is a familiar character in Uncle Remus, Folk Tales of the South (1880) is simplified to “B Rabby” in the Bahamas. Learn about Bahamian Folktales. Read an article from 1889 titled "Folklore of the Bahama Negroes".
The folklore of the Bahamas was collected from Green Turtle Cay, Harbour Island and Bimini between 1888 and 1893 by the University of Cincinnati. The stories were documented verbatim, and in local dialect in Bahamas Songs and Stories, Memoirs of the American Folk-Lore Society, Vol. III, 1895. In 1918 the Society published the Folktale of Andros Island.
The setting of the stories illustrate the influence of the physical environment of the Islands. The inclusion of the lion, elephant, and tiger, in Bahamian lore suggest a heredity origin from African ancestors, while the rabbit, not indigenous to the Bahamas, points to the influence of American Negro lore.
Every story is preceded with the same verse
Once it was a time, a very good time, De monkey chewed tobacco, An’ ‘e spit white lime
And every story is ended with the doggerel
E bo ban, my story’s en’, If you doan’ believe my story’s true, Hax my captain an’ my crew…”
Listen to B‘ RABBY, B‘ SPIDER AN‘ B‘ BOOKY to discover how a rabbit, a spider and a goat solved their problem of sharing a bunch of bananas while sailing home from a day working the fields.
B‘ RABBY, B‘ SPIDER AN‘ B‘ BOOKY
Once ‘twas a time, a very good time, De monkey chewed tobacco, an‘ ‘e spit white lime….
B‘ Rabby, B‘ Spider an‘ B‘ Booky wen‘ in de field. As evenin‘ vwas comin‘ dey was comin‘ home in de boat. An‘ dey had one bunch o‘ bananas to share an‘ dey didn‘ know how to share it. An‘ B‘ Spider did say to B‘ Rabby, ”Trow de bunch o‘ bananas overboar‘ an‘ den who could dive de mostest could have de mostest.”
Den dey pull off der close. B‘ Rabby had de furst dive. Vw‘en ‘e vwent down to bottom ‘e bring up four bananas. Vw‘en B‘ Booky vwent down ‘e bring two. B‘ Spider vw‘en ‘e pitch overboar‘ ‘e float.
B‘ Rabby pitch overboar‘ again an‘ ‘e bring up six. B‘ Booky pitch overboar‘ again an‘ ‘e bring up four. B‘ Spider pitch overboar‘ again; ‘e float. ‘E say, ”You no tie de grapple to me an‘ le‘ me go down an‘ get hall.” An‘ ‘e vwent down ; ‘e ketch hall on ‘em ; an‘ ‘e couldn‘ come hup no more.
An‘ B‘ Rabby take his knife an‘ cut avay de rope. An‘ den dey vwent home. An‘ B‘ Spider---; vw‘en dey hax ‘em, ”Whey B‘ Spider ? ”An‘ B‘ Rabby say, ”B‘ Spider ‘e did have such a big eye ;
‘e did vwant all de bananas an‘ ‘e couldn‘ dive.” ‘E say, ”B‘ Spider did say, ‘You no tie dis grapple to me an‘ le‘ me get hall.‘” An‘de Spider‘s mudder say, ”‘ F you don‘ go fetch ‘im I put you in prison.” An‘ dey say dey aint gwine. An‘ de vwoman did carry ‘em to prison. An‘ B‘ Rabby did put de vwoman in jail. An‘ de judge did say, ‘e couldn‘ put B‘ Rabby in prison fur dat, cause ‘twas B‘ Spider‘s fault.
Ebo ban, my story‘s en‘, If you doan‘ believe my story ‘s true Hax my captain an‘ my crew. Vw‘en I die bury me in a pot o‘ candle grease.
Source - Bahamas Songs and Stories, Memoirs of the American Folk-Lore Society, Vol. III, 1895