Madiba and the Magic Tree

Once upon a time, in a village in Africa, there was a huge baobab so majestic and imposing that it held everyone’s attention.

Its immense and generous roots were implanted with dignity in the ground, and its majestic and solid trunk sheltered a small cave.

Its generous foliage housed birds that came to stay out of the heat. It was also the refuge of animals and children who liked to nest inside to play.

The Baobab was called the magic tree because he was the village doctor.

He was the guardian of traditional, ancestral remedies.

One day, when the village’s children were sitting inside its trunk, as usual after school, they suddenly heard another voice that was not theirs.

The voice said: Why don’t you eat my fruits, they are full of vitamins and will fill you with a lot of energy!

Madiba, the oldest in the group, asked, “But who spoke?”

All the children had heard, but no one dared to answer.

Madiba asked again, “Come on, stop making jokes. Who is talking now?”

The voice resumed: “You come every day inside my trunk, and no one says hello to me. It’s me, Baobab, talking to you.”

While the other children cowered from the talking tree, Madiba, the bravest, answered confidently, “Trees don’t speak.”

The Baobab laughed and said to him, “You can see that, yes, but we are not going to dwell on whether or not you believe me.”

The Baobab continued, “Your father fell seriously ill one day because he had been bitten by an anopheles gambiae mosquito which easily transmits malaria.”

Madiba interrupted by asking, “So what did you do to help him?

Like an old, wise man, the Baobab answered slowly, “At dawn on a beautiful morning during harvest, your grandmother came to visit me, stroking my trunk to say hello. She told me that her son was seriously ill and that she needed assistance.

She said, ” Oh great wise Baobab, the tree doctor, please give me the remedy to soothe the fever.

She was a generous and caring woman, her tired eyes filled with tears staring at the ground, waiting for my response.” The Baobab paused, reflecting on that memory from long ago, then continued with the story.

I told her, “Stop crying, Mama, and pick my leaves. You will boil them in hot water and give this herbal tea to your son until his fever disappears.”

She said, “Oh, thank you, infinitely wise father, great magician.” Then your grandmother left with the sacred leaves in her bag.

It wasn’t long before her son, your dad, got better. Since then, she has come back regularly to sit at the foot of my roots, and I hear her whispering prayers of thanks. Sometimes she even comes for a little nap inside my trunk, which is nice and cool.

I like to have visitors, and I know this village’s inhabitants.

Madiba was impressed and said to the wise old Baobab, “Oh, this is incredible! I’m going to see dad quickly and tell him about my conversation with the old Baobab tree!”

The boy came excitedly to his father and told him the story.

His father was skeptical and said to Madiba, “My son, I can believe a lot of things, but trees do not speak…”

Madiba had to convince his dad and said, “I was not sure of it either, but come with me, dad, you will see, it’s true, trees do speak to human beings!”

Reluctantly, Father agreed to go visit the old Baobab tree. Father and son stood in front of the tree, silent and curious to hear the voice again.

Time passed, and nothing came.

Madiba said, “Oh great, sage, where are you? My father is here and doesn’t believe you can talk to human beings.”

A few seconds later, they heard a huge yawn… AHHH, you’re there. I was just taking a little nap.”

The wise old tree recognized Madiba’s father and said, “Ah, here you are, Masali. I am happy to see you in great shape with your clever son.”

Masali, Madiba’s dad, was really surprised!

He said, “So it was true. I thought the afternoon heat made me hear you speak to me. I apologize to you, O great sacred Baobab, village doctor. I now know what is true: if human beings really listen, we can hear the trees talking to us.” He turned to face his son and said, “My dear little warrior, my Madiba, my son, thank you for opening my eyes.”

The Baobab then instructed Masali, the father, to pick some monkey bread from the tree and take it back to the village. “Share my fruit harvest with your family, neighbors, and those who pass by, and don’t forget to take some leaves too. When the day comes, the leaves will be helpful to you or to someone else who will need some medicine.”

Then the wise old tree said to little Madiba, “Little one, could you kindly scratch my bark? I’m not very ticklish. You can peel some of the bark. It will also serve you if you have a stomach ache. And please come back to see me often. I have lived for hundreds of years and will keep standing for as long as you need me.”

Madiba and his father walked back home in silence. They had both understood something profound about the importance of living in harmony with nature.

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