Under a Giant Baobab Tree - Bajo un árbol BAOBAB gigante

 By Allison Cooper, Albany HS


    This photo is of a giant Baobab tree in a village in Mali. I went to Mali in April with the organization called Building with Books to help build a school in a village in Ntiondougou-koloni (meaning the village founded by Ntion with a small well) in the Bougouni region of the West African country. Baobab trees and mango trees, combined with some small shrubs, made up most of the landscape as we drove through miles of hot (always around 100 degrees F-- it was the dry hot season) Sahel desert-- the "shores" of the great Sahara. The village where this Baobab is near Ntiondougou-Koloni; we went there because it has a big market, where neighboring villagers go to the market. The tree is the center of the main marketplace area, surrounded by stands filled with spices, jewelry, henna and other dyes, and random clothing and plastic things. The huge tree centerpiece provides an infinitely important resource to the villagers: Shade! It also provides a fruit called "monkey bread," and the leaves are used in cooking and medicine and the bark used for rope and cloth.
Baobabs store water in their thick corky trunks, collected during the shorter wet season for use during the long dry season. You may recognize the baobab tree as the home of "Rafiki" in Disney's "The Lion King" (which, I might add, was based in part on Mali's legendary ruler named Sundiata, nicknamed "the Lion King of Mali"). I liked to see how villagers in Mali respected what nature had given them. They use only as much of their resources as they need to keep their natural resources alive and well, so they will continue to sustain them in the future. However, bad farming practices are increasing desertification, or the spread of the desert into dried out land. This is a major environmental problem in Mali and other Sahel countries, and global warming will only have negative effects. Hopefully support from other countries and increased education combined with the native nature-loving African cultures will keep such natural masterpeices as the baobab tree thriving.

Comments: AllisonCooper@EarthTeam.net

Fuente: The Green.  Ver fuente: http://thegreennews.net/issues/0706.htm
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