The Baobab Tree
Why this tree is choosen for our logo
The baobabs, totaling about a dozen species, are native to the hot dry savannas in Africa, Madagascar and northern Australia. The name baobab is taken from the Swahili language where it is also called the Mbuyu tree. Other African names include Kremetartboom (Afrikaans), Warka (Ethiopian), Murambo (Meru), and umShimulu, isiMuhu and isiMuku (Zulu). The baobab tree is also known as the monkey bread tree, cream of tartar tree, lemonade tree and sour gourd tree. The baobab tree has an enormous trunk with tapering branches and can attain a maximum height of 75 feet and maximum diameter of 60 feet around the trunk. It is also one of the longest lived trees in the world; radio-carbon dating has measured ages of over 2,000 years. The leaves are about 5 inches long and have three to seven glossy leaflets. It produces 5 to 7 inch flowers with five white petals and numerous purplish stamen. A long style with a ten-pointed stigma extends beyond the stamen. The sweet-scented flowers are suspended on long stalks and face downward. The velvety fruit contains a mealy, acid pulp and approximately 30 seeds. It grows 6 to 10 inches long and up to 4 inches wide. The baobab is highly regarded by African people because all of its parts can be utilized in some capacity. In addition to being an important source of timber, the trunks are often hollowed out by people who use them for shelter, grain storage or as water reservoirs. The hollowed trunks also serve as burial sites. Some of the most important products come from the bark of the tree, which contains a fiber that is used to make fishnets, cords, sacks and clothing. The bark can also be ground into a powder for flavoring food. The leaves of the baobab were traditionally used for leaven but are also used as a vegetable. Its fruits and seeds are also edible for humans and animals. The pulp of the fruit, when dried and mixed with water, makes a beverage that tastes similar to lemonade. The seeds, which taste like cream of tartar and are a valuable source of vitamin C, were traditionally pounded into meal when other food was scarce. Other products such as soap, necklaces, glue, rubber, medicine and cloth can be produced from the various parts of the baobab tree. The baobab tree serves as a meeting place for many villages to discuss community matters, relate the news of the day, or tell stories. It is also considered to be an object of worship by the people of the African savannahs. Baobabs are a protected tree in South Africa and is said to be one of the "World Trees", or Tree of Life by many of the cultures on the African continent. Senegal has chosen the baobab as its national symbol. Religious beliefs and practices in Africa have played a role in raising the baobab tree to a level of sacredness. Its ability to survive long periods of time without water, its usefulness and its extremely long life might be some possible reasons the people of the African savannah have worshipped the baobab. One particular way the baobab tree has been used as a religious object is as a burial chamber. In some parts of Africa, the bodies of certain important individuals are placed in a hollowed-out trunk of the baobab tree to symbolize the communion between the vital forces of the plant gods and the body of the departed. Several myths that use the baobab as a backdrop for teaching moral lessons are told by the Bushmen or Hausa people of Northern Nigeria. One tale involving the baobab which is used to explain a phenomenon of nature as well as teach a moral lesson is the myth "The Tale of the Superman" In this story a husband boasts to his wife that he is the strongest man alive. He learns of another man who claims to be "superman", and goes to seek him out. This second "superman" is actually an extremely powerful superhuman who kicks up wind wherever he goes and eats men for dinner. While trying to escape from "superman", the husband comes across the "Giant-of-the-Forest" sitting under a baobab tree. The giant offers to help the husband, and enters into a terrible fight with "superman". In their struggle to free themselves from each others' grasp, they leap to such a height they disappear into the heavens. As a result, their struggle can be heard as thunder. The moral of the story is summed up by the wife who says, "Never boast about your achievements again. However strong or clever or rich or powerful you are, there is always somebody more so."