Why ‘baobab papers’ ?
I am a child of the African continent, not the country in which I grew up. African fables, tales and mysteries accompanied my earliest childhood dreams. And Baobab trees, well, I adore them.
As trees go, I’m hard-pressed to find any other which so magically conjures up Gods, sangomas, spirits, mopani worms, wild imaginings, wildebeest, kudu, black mambas, rhinoceri, rain, shongallolos, lions, elephants, banana palms, monkeys or the ancestors of thunder and lightning. All of these mixed into my childhood memories and fantasies I kept wrapped safe from dust, inside notebooks at the back of my closet, alongside the sticky tapers of silkworm cocoons, tucked safely between fresh mulberry leaves, I stole off an overhanging branch of an estate tree, when I would cycle home from school. This was my world, hidden in a white shoebox, in the dark, from the raging of adults.
A Baobab tree nourishes, houses, feeds, protects and loyally defends all those who seek such comfort or even find mythical wisdom in her guidance. For me, she has always been Africa’s Grand Old Lady; defiant, rumbustious and most impressively of all, totally unafraid of Gods, myths, curses, and even death. She gives and shares and never asks for anything: hollowed out and ancient, she can host a village within her trunk, if needed.
She is notoriously difficult to destroy: not even the heat of a wild fire does her enough damage. It is a tree whose fruit and flowers have spawned industries. In her rich abundance she chooses when to take her leave. . the Baobab is not a tree renowned for dying: When she does, you will not witness her ageing, she will not share the preliminaries of her dying with anyone. One will merely awaken to find, in her stead, a simple pile of fibres of where her mammoth generosity and hospitality made you love Africa all the more, for ever having shared her shade and resourcefulness. There will be no dead remnant of her silhouette against the sky.
She is my African goddess of life, love and living. She is my muse. And in her shadow and by her light, I am and can only ever be an unremarkablemuse by turn.
Welcome to my corner of the 100 Acre Wood.