This book comprises a collection of popular folk stories from Guyana and other countries of the Caribbean region. The starring character in all of them is Nansi whose exploits form part of the folklore of these countries. �Nansi�, the starring character in all the stories, is also popularly known as �Anansi�. But in Guyana and some other Caribbean countries, Nansi, the shortened form of this name, is usually preferred. Nansi, who is a spider�but who sometimes takes the qualities or form of a man, or even half-man and half-spider�is originally the chief trickster among the Ashanti and Akan peoples of West Africa. When some of these peoples were forcibly brought to the Caribbean and the American continent as slaves from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries, they also brought with them the tales of the exploits of Nansi, who was, and still is, variably regarded as a folk hero, a cunning trickster and also sometimes as a fool. The stories in this book are no different to the ones told in West Africa or other parts of the Caribbean and the south-east United States, even though the plots and the characters involved may vary slightly. They certainly provide tangible evidence that much of the oral traditions of people of African origin in the Americas remain intact, despite the historical trauma caused by centuries of slavery. Nansi is always outwitting the forest creatures, humans, his own family, the community in which he lives, and sometimes even deities. His character assumes various patterns. In some cases he is regarded as wise, but he can be greedy, cunning, gluttonous, stupid and dishonest. Despite these varying characteristics, Nansi is generally admired for the manner in which he outwits others. In Guyana and other countries of the English-speaking Caribbean, particularly in rural areas, the exploits of Nansi are related by older people as a form of entertainment at wakes and other community gatherings. The stories are now no longer exclusive to people of West African ancestry, since people of all ethnic origins in the these countries regard Nansi as their folk hero as well. Interestingly, all stories told at these informal community gatherings are regarded as �Nansi stories� even though Nansi may not be a character in any of them. The tales of Nansi are very imaginative and they are so embedded in the minds of people of Guyana and the Caribbean that sometimes any story that is far-fetched and hard to believe is dismissed as a �Nansi story.�
Dr. Odeen Ishmael, a veteran Guyanese diplomat, is currently ambassador of Guyana to the state of Kuwait. Before his current appointment in January 2011, he was ambassador to Venezuela from 2003 to 2011 and to the United States of America (USA) from 1993 to 2003. In the USA, he served concurrently as Guyana�s permanent representative to the Organization of American States (OAS) where he had the distinction of being the chairman of the OAS Permanent Council for two periods�in 1994 and 2003. He was also his country�s chief negotiator in the Summit of the Americas from 1994 to 2003 and functioned as the representative of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) on the Summit�s implementation committee during 2000�2003. Additionally, in the course of his career, he has represented Guyana at the United Nations and at other international forums such as the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and the Non-Aligned Movement, and during 2003�2010, at high-level meetings of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and the Latin America and Caribbean Economic System (SELA). He was elected as chairman of SELA, headquartered in Venezuela, for the period of 2009�2010. In his early career, the author worked as a teacher for almost three decades both in Guyana and the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. Since the 1970s, he has been a premier writer on the problems and perspectives of education in Guyana and the wider Caribbean region. He continues to write extensively on Guyanese history and political developments in the Caribbean and the Latin American region. His writings on these subjects are published in newspapers and journals in Guyana, the wider Caribbean, North America, and the Latin American region. His published books include The Democracy Perspective in the Americas, Problems of the Transition of Education in the Third World, Towards Education Reform in Guyana, Amerindian Legends of Guyana, The Magic Pot�Nansi Stories From the Caribbean, and Guyana Legends�Folktales of the Indigenous Amerindians. An Internet edition of his documentary history of the Guyana-Venezuela border controversy, The Trail of Diplomacy, was released in 1998 and has been regularly updated since then. Further, he has compiled a lengthy collection of original documents on the Guyana-Venezuela border issue under the title, Guyana�s Western Border. In addition, as editor of the online GNI Publications, he has published a series of documents on Guyanese history. For his work in diplomacy, the author received one of Guyana�s highest honors, the Cacique Crown of Honor, in May 1997. And during his stint in the United States, he received the prestigious King Legacy Award for International Service from the International Committee to Commemorate the Life and Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. in January 2002. Significantly, the U.S. Congress paid a special tribute to him by a joint resolution in October 2003 just before he completed his service in the United States. The author and his wife, Evangeline, have a son, Safraz Waseem, and a daughter, Nadeeza.