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Archive for the ‘Africa’ Category

In case you’re wondering , I do like to photograph other things beside birds and plants, namely people and this program called “Cultural Safari Afrika” inititated by the City Council provided an opportunity for shutterbugs like me with unlimited access to take pics of people without worrying about asking consent/permission first. The only regret I have is that I didn’t take enough pics !! And I would have actually like to take a couple of portrait pics of the pretty Ethiopian girls or lovely Congolese women etc.

These are the girls I’m talking about . The dashing African MC was distracting them at this moment , I would like to personally shoot him (on camera of course).

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I’m sorry , I should do this in order, the opening ceremony by local Aborigines elders and didgeridoo musical artistes.

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Ethiopian coffee ceremony held in a large white tent with a lovely Ethiopian women in traditional costume as a hostess.

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Some artefacts from the exhibition in the local library.

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More African stuff in the display box, would be more visible if not for the reflection of  the light on the ceiling.

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The place to sample some African food – Eritrean and yummy. This man was fixing the banner everytime I came to take pics.

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Dancers from I’m not sure which part of Africa they are, but they look real awesome.

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Lovely African women in traditional wear in a fashion parade. The loveliest of them leads the pack.

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This toddler was into the groove. She really hit it on the dance floor.

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I’m not sure if this one is a modern or traditional dance.

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Last but not least, some hip hop.

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I was heading to the front gate of Botanic Gardens as it was almost closing time, but was sidetracked by the flora and fauna on the way up there.  There were the cockatoos  which I tried to take pics up  close (in vain, I might add because they kept flying away or going up a higher branch),  and then there was a lovely, shady tree with red flowers which caught my eye called red hot poker tree (Erythrina Abyssinica), which I thought was quite an amusing name for a tree.

And then there was this tree….

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Night was approaching and the twilight framed the tree’s silhouette beautifully against the setting sun.  I had been observing the tree earlier in between taking pictures of the aloe plants and cactuses.   I’m  sure I’ve seen this tree somewhere or maybe it was  in a previous life….(I’m being slightly melodramatic). Or maybe this is an earth version of the famed Lote tree (Sidratul Muntaha) that separates the heaven and the earth. It reached my inner psyche so  I had to ‘tawaf’ (encircled)  around it to adore its beauty.

This is another picture of the tree from another angle.

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I checked the sign for the name and it said ” Bombacacaea, Adansonia Grandidieri, Madagascar”. When I came back home, I googled the name  and found out  it was a species of the baobab tree from Madagascar.  There are 8 species in the world apparently, 6 from Madagascar and 1 from Africa and 1 from Australia.

The one from Africa is called “Adansonia Digitata” (which I am focusing on),  is commonly known as “boaboa”, “bottle tree” or “upside down tree” because during the dry season (7-9 months a year), the tree’s branches are devoid of leaves and hence makes it look like it was planted upside down with its roots sticking out.

“The baobab is an enormous tree, but not due to its height: it reaches a maximum of 31.2 m (104 ft), but to its thickness: the trunk can be 11 m (38 ft) in diameter while the diameter of the canopy can be 100 m (333 ft), covering 6-7,000 square meters.The gray bark can be 5-10 cm (2-4 inches) thick. But the roots of the tree are extremely large: up to 50 m (166 ft) long. “ Softpedia

I recall seeing one such tree being the centrepoint in a documentary about wildlife in the plains of the African savanna. It was inhabited by a troop of baboons that feasted on its nutritious fruits.  Elephants also like to strip its bark to find moisture in the dry season. It looked very impressive with its  big wide ebony trunks and long outreached branches against the backdrop of  the seemingly endless grassland.

Some baobab trees are believed to be thousand of years old like here and here but apparently the tree’s true age can only be ascertained by carbon dating as it is widely thought that baobab trees do not produce annual rings. I guess it could live so long and also withstand the elements of nature like the wind and rain due to its large concrete roots embedded firmly inside the earth. It is also called “The tree of life” because of its long life span , hence, some individual trees can even be older than the Pyramids of Giza!

Perhaps the most notable mention of the baobab tree is in the philosophical fiction , The Little Prince” written and illustrated by Antoine de Saint Exupery and marketed as a children’s book (Adults read it too 🙂 . One of my fave books, it really needs an entry by itself). About a prince from a small planet who came to earth to visit. The little prince thinks the seeds of baobabs are bad because when they can grow up into trees , they can split his little planet into pieces. There is also an illustration of  three baobab trees crowding the little prince ‘s tiny planet in the book.

On the contrary, in real life , nutrients or products from the baobab tree have many useful or medicinal properties , and for this reason, it is sometimes called “The magic tree” or “The small pharmacy/chemist”. (This tree really has many nicknames. ) See this. Studies have even been done to see the correlation of baobab trees and the demographic pattern in Africa. It really is an amazing tree not only for it usefulness but when it reaches 800 years or a millenium ,it looks pretty awesome. Some of them are quite hollow inside, used as a temporary prison in the olden days in Australia and inside another one (which is probably 5000 years old) has even been turned into a pub in South Africa . (You can see it if you follow one of  the link up there.)

This entry is beginning to sound a little too academic so I’ll stop here.

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