The magical Baobab tree, in Afrikaans the Kremetart, (cream of tartar) with its hand shaped green leaves, and kidney like super fruits. The “Tree of Life”, “The Monkey Bread Tree”. Where Mufasa in The Lion King finds his source of wisdom and inspiration. To re-engage and reclaim the kingdom from the forces of darkness.
The Baobab is steeped in a wealth of mystique and legend. The vitality of this tree is legendary; that even after the entire tree is cut down it simply resprouts from the root and continues to grow. When a tree dies it collapses into a heap of soggy, fibrous pulp, and stories exist of how decomposing trees spontaneously combust and get completely burnt up. Alive, even in death.
The Little Prince eloquently and asymmetrically describes the physical and symbolic power of the Baobab. ‘A baobab is something you will never be able to get rid of…if you attend to it to too late. And if the planet is too small and the baobabs to many, they split it in pieces. It is a question of discipline. When you’ve finished your own toilet in the morning, then it is time to attend to the toilet of nature, with the greatest care… you must see to it that you pull up regularly all the baobabs, at the very first moment they can be distinguished from rose bushes which they resemble so closely in their earliest youth. It is very tedious work … but very easy.’ – (Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Harcourt, 1943)
Large trees with hollow stems have been used by people for centuries for various purposes including houses, prisons, storage barns and even shops. The clefts of the large branches are used for the collection of rainwater and as a reservoir for water. When the wood is chewed, it provides vital moisture to relieve thirst.
The seeds are edible and are roasted for use as a coffee substitute. Split open a Baobab seed and adore the beauty of this masterpiece. It resembles something of a human kidney ~ the next frontier in medical science. We have conquered the vascular diseases of the heart, but that of the kidney ~ the human purification and regulating system in matters water and endocrine functioning ~ still poses many challenges.
The fivefold and hand shaped leaves are said to be rich in vitamin C, sugars, potassium tartrate, and calcium. The local people cook the leaves as a vegetable or dry and crush it for later use. The colour green in the leaves symbolises praise, eternal life, vigor, prosperity, mercy, restoration, health, healing, and new beginnings.
A Baobab becoming big enough to open the mysteries of centuries and put a nation in a different orbit. That’s us.