Visit the giants of the north

Travel up north in our wonderfully diverse country for a visit and one image will stick with you long after the lion sighting or the sacred forest is relegated to your digital collection – that of the towering presence of the Baobab Tree.  This magnificent colossus would not seem out of place in the company of dinosaurs and yet a Baobab backlit by a blazing orange sunset is quintessentially African.  The Baobab, Adansonia digitata, is an unusual looking tree with a bulbous stem and spindly branches resembling roots. Bushmen believed that fully grown Baobabs were flung from paradise and, being top heavy, landed with their roots in the air while Dr David Livingstone unkindly referred to the Baobab as ‘that giant upturned carrot.’  Known for their exceptionally long life, some of the biggest trees, measuring over 40 metres in girth, are thought to be between 1000 and 2500 years old, like the Sagole Baobab in the Soutpansberg. Through the ages, the thick-stemmed Baobab tree has been used as a post-office, bus stop and even a fully-functioning pub. “Baobabs provide food, medicine, shelter, fodder, spiritual fulfilment and now when women need a cash income to survive, baobabs provide that too,” says Dr Sarah Venter, the dynamo behind the BaoCare success story consisting of Baobab Oils and Nutritional Powder and is produced from baobab seeds that are harvested by 1500 unemployed rural women from the Venda region in Limpopo.  She launched the Baobab Guardians Programme to ensure that the young baobabs survive and thrive under the watchful eye of their human protectors. Baobabs symbolise the deep and ancient rhythms of Africa, so it is appropriate that they are providing sustainable resources for those who continue to live in the shadow of these magical trees.

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