The Baobab, “The Tree of Life”
The baobab tree, a prehistoric species, predates both mankind and the splitting of the continents over 200 million years ago. Native to the African Savannah where the climate is extremely dry and arid, it is a symbol of life and positivity in a landscape where often little else thrives. Baobab trees grow in 32 African countries. They can live over 5,000 years, grow up to 100 feet high and an astonishing 160 feet in circumference. Baobabs provide countless products, shelter, food and water for humans and animals. Its root system is tremendous and the baobab can sustain itself for years at a time from the moisture stored within. They have been known to survive both drought and fire. Many savannah communities have made their homes near Baobab trees. This is how it became known as “The Tree of Life”.
There is a pub in South Africa, “The Big Baobab Pub” built inside the hollow trunk of a baobab tree. The tree is 72 ft high and 155 ft in circumference and is said to have been carbon dated at over 6,000 years old. Every part of the baobab tree is valuable – the bark can be be used for rope and clothing, the seeds; used to make cosmetic oils, the leaves are edible, the trunks can store water and the fruit is extraordinarily rich in nutrients and antioxidants. Women in Africa have turned to the baobab fruit as a natural source of health and beauty for centuries.
We believe the baobab is the perfect metaphor for Jazz. Like the baobab tree, Jazz’s roots live in antiquity and in Africa. The baobab is the “tree of life” providing nourishment and safety for all. Jazz is the “music of life” nourishing , love, peace, justice, and joy for all. Like the baobab, Jazz has fueled every generation and genre that has come afterwards. Like the majestic and irreplaceable baobab, which mysteriously began to disappear in the past few decades, Jazz and its practitioners are also in danger. Some say the if tree of life dies, man dies. Climate change, poverty, war, greed, and racism all contribute to the challenges facing the baobab, the music, and mankind. Like the baobab, jazz can be a healing balm to all of us.
Knowledge breeds appreciation and we hope you reflect on this metaphor as you explore and enjoy the Jazz History Tree. We also hope it motivates you to support this music. Please donate to our sponsor Harlem Late Night Jazz Inc (HLNJ). HLNJ is a nonprofit (501c3) whose mission is to keep the music……and the love,….alive!
Please visit our Sponsor: harlemlatenightjazz.org and donate to our mission