Sunday, August 23, 2009

Legends of the Baobab 2

In Madagascar, the Grandidier's baobab (Adansonia grandidieri), the most statuesque of the Malagasy species, is believed to be the dwelling place of spirits. Offerings are placed at its base to ensure fertility, a fine harvest, and good fortune.

At Dakfao Niger, there is a baobab sacred to the Imannen Tururag, high up the trunk are incantations, symbols and sacred texts.

Throughout Africa the baobab is venerated or regarded with awe, the absence of regeneration has led some communities to believe that it appeared by magic overnight, others believe the trees possess souls and ancient sprits, they can move during the night but must stay imobil during the day.

Along the Zambezi, the tribes believe that when the world was young the Baobabs were upright and proud. However for some unknown reason, they lorded over the lesser growths. The gods became angry and uprooted the Baobabs , thrusting them back into the ground, root upwards. Evil spirits now haunt the sweet white flowers and anyone who picks one will be killed by a lion.

One gigantic baobab in Zambia is said to be haunted by a ghostly python. Before the white man came, a large python lived in the hollow trunk and was worshipped by the local natives. When they prayed for rain, fine crops and good hunting , the python answered their prayers. The first white hunter shot the python and this event led to disastrous consequences. On still nights the natives claim to hear a continuous hissing sound from the old tree.

In the Kafue National Park in Zambia, one of the largest Baobabs is known as "Kondanamwali" - the tree that eats maidens. This enormous tree fell in love with the four beautiful girls who lived in its shade. When they reached puberty, they sought husbands and made the tree jealous. One night, during a raging thunderstorm, the tree opened its trunk and took the maidens inside. A rest house had been built in the branches of the tree. On stormy nights, it is the crying of the imprisoned maidens that make people inside tremble - not the sounds of the wild animals.

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