International Journal of

Arts , Humanities & Social Science

ISSN 2693-2547 (Print) , ISSN 2693-2555 (Online)
Chameleon: Shifting the Spectrum from Anansi and Rabbit to Lizard

Abstract

 

Chief Caribbean animal metaphors, Anansi and Rabbit, fail to adequately capture these three fundamental attributes in authors wrestling with colonisation’s aftermath. These writers skilfully praise and undermine, while living off the coloniser. The carrot-and-stick approach evokes the colour-shifting chameleon—a fabulous, camouflaging, enemy-rerouting African trickster lizard—chosen as a cynosure for succeeding where Anansi and Rabbit fail. Anansi and Rabbit served the Caribbean well insofar as adjusting to slavery and post-slavery survival dynamics. But given progress in a modern era, the old Anansi and Rabbit tropes become haunting metaphors to the Caribbean and threaten to retard the region in an era of modern civilization. While Chameleon retains some of the attributes of Rabbit and Anansi, the lizard’s colours are diverse and reflect adaptation to any reality: old or new.  The chameleon’s camouflage serves as a signification-occulting rhetoric for authors and, on the character level, those who mimic and outwit oppressors to survive resemble chameleon. The lizard’s colour alternation, for figuratively and ably capturing authorial ambivalence towards oppressor and oppressed, renders the lizard suitable as rhetoric for subversion and character survival in the Caribbean. What is more, an in-depth study of chameleon reveals that the creature is a feature in the lore of Europe, Africa, and Asia—the three Caribbean impacting continents, making chameleon in proverbial language, and, unlike the African Anansi and Rabbit, a lizard for all seasons.