Kigelia Africana – The Sausage tree – The Tree of Life

By Eve Hoter, Nov 24, 2017

I went back to Africa, back to our oldest ancestors, back to an abundance and variety of life I had rarely witnessed before. This time Botswana and Zambia. Last year was Zimbabwe mostly.

Immersed in day after day of wildlife watching, I can´t stop admiring the interconnection of all. We just can´t grab how intricately interlinked our life is with everything around. If we learn and research, the knowledge we achieve is barely the tip of an iceberg… so much more lies beyond our possible awareness. Even that tiny tip triggers the awe for the balance and synchronicity of all.

The sausage tree became a symbol for me in this respect. It grows majestic in the Luangwa Valley in Zambia with a bountiful canopy. Its big fruits mature right at the hottest time of the year, to be able to feed the animals when food starts to scarce. It is a semi deciduous tree, staying with its leaves for most of the year and because of this it provides shade to most of the African animals. This is just the start. In September, October it blooms. Its flowers open at night to be pollinated by the fruit bats that feed on its nectar.

In the morning, the flowers drop on the floor, becoming rich food for impalas, puku, bushbuck and so on. In turn, leopards enjoy the shade on its upper branches and use it to ambush antelopes that come to feed, hiding their kill among their leaves. Hyenas, alerted by some impala´s alarm call approach and patiently gather underneath, waiting for what drops from the leopard´s feast or, once he´s done, for what he sometimes graciously drops for them to satiate they hunger and allow the leopard to move away without getting harmed. All in perfect synchronicity of time and opportunity.

Its fruit (giving the tree its name) has the shape of a sausage and can weigh up to 10 kg. It feeds yet another large variety of species: hippos, porcupines, baboons, zebra, giraffe, warthogs, impala, squirrels and many more. Humans use it for its medicinal properties. They crush the seeds and the sap is made into an ointment commercially sold for skin cancer treatment. If boiled, it produces a red dye, rich in iron and used for anemia.

The wood is used by locals for their dug-out canoes thanks to its lightness and easiness to carve. It is considered holy by many tribes and most of their religious gatherings are often held under its shade. Some believe that hanging a fruit in their homes will protect them from whirlwinds; rubbing it over the body of their babies will render the child fat and healthy or on a mother´s breast will stimulate her milk flow. And the accounts go on and on. Thank you to our knowledgeable, kind and gentle Zambian guide Sky or Miyoba Mbaama for introducing us to the hidden world of Africa´s interconnections and so much knowledge!!! 😊

A single tree full of its own life and on which so many more depend upon… What a wonderful metaphor of what Life is all about. We are all interconnected, we all depend on each other, collaborate, struggle; in the end always in relation to everything around. We in the western world, with our culture emphasizing the individual side of our existence, are so scarcely aware and unconscious of how much we gravitate on each other…

Life and death bear Life. We as individuals are just a link of a much bigger picture, an instrument of Life itself. All is transformation in interdependence. Are we aware of our impact and how we are impacted? Of how the impact works and spreads in different planes? Of how we depend on different planes? Of how we are part of an evolution or development we are mostly unaware of? So many times, our struggles blind us to the very best gift: Life itself. In an ever-changing world, with its ongoing big challenges, Life keeps evolving in its mystery beyond our human comprehension.

I love to watch animals and different forms of life. I open to a deeper awareness of different ways of perception, communication, interconnection, synchronicity. Plants and animals communicate and talk to each other in ways we are unaware of. Giraffes feed upwind to avoid trees communicating through the air with chemicals, filling their leaves themselves and warning other trees around to produce more tannin thus being less palatable and surviving further. And on and on my mind and soul blows away with what I learn and apprehend…. My intellect is not enough. My heart, intuition and soul open beyond concepts into an experience beyond words.

Nature embraces us, allows us to live. Modern civilization creates the illusion that we are different, separate beings. We keep damaging ourselves and the world we live in. Majestic, beautiful, intelligent creatures such as elephants, lions, rhinos, leopards, wild dogs, pandas, polar bears and so many more are endangered. And not as known nor majestic but key to the interrelation of all, are from bacteria to so many other species throughout the living realm!! We are ruining land and oceans. It is hard to know for sure, so there is no certainty about numbers. Some say that 1 species goes extinct every 5 minutes, others 3 per hour… Some data revealed a rate of 100 to 1,000 species lost per million per year, mostly due to human-caused habitat destruction and climate change. Some analysis revealed that before humans evolved, less than a single species per million went extinct annually. Whatever the numbers are, it is clear to me that it is essential that we humans increase our awareness and do something about it. A very interesting article I read by Jonathan Hann for Sierra Club Magazine highlights the big spread not only of human awareness but of what we do about it. If we would be more aware of how we all interdepend, maybe we would do better.

Amazing individuals, couples and organizations are doing incredible work, making monumental contributions to conservation, education and fostering sustainable growth all over the world. A single individual can gravitate in a country´s destiny and there are so many examples, especially in Africa. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true.

We are all in this together, our species depends on our own attitudes and behavior. Only a joint effort will gravitate strongly in our world´s future. Everything we do and don´t do will have an impact in all levels: physical, emotional, mental, social, environmental and spiritual. We have the duty to expand our consciousness and gravitate with a joint positive impact in everything around us. Is it too late? We don´t know, but we owe it to our future generations, to all the living beings on Earth and to ourselves.

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