BOOK 'THE AFRICAN BAOBAB'
icon of the African landscape
- - Just in time for
the festive season comes a really fascinating Africana 'coffee table'
book: Rupert Watson's excellent and beautifully illustrated book 'The
baobab is surely the botanical symbol of Africa. Instantly
recognizable from afar and a compelling icon of the African
age-old 'upside-down tree' invariably inspires wonder, awe and
mystery, and has intrigued travellers for hundreds of years.
an absorbing, inspired account, author Rupert Watson explores
the life and times of this fascinating tree, from its early
Madagascan beginnings to its present status on the continent'
and its nature in a changing Africa.
effortlessly mixes natural science, history and personal
experience, drawing on extracts from the journals of early
explorers who, on encountering these extraordinary trees,
measured and sketched them for a skeptical audience back home.
- - Rupert
Watson's excellent and
beautifully illustrated book
'The African Baobab'.
He presents intriguing
and detailed accounts of the baobab's eccentric growth and
reproductive habits, its present-day distribution, and its wide impact
on everyday African life.
author takes a close look at the myriad uses of baobabs over the ages:
their hollow centres have served as prisons, toilets, wells and bars,
and some specimens have even been used as a refuge in battle or as
fibre, seeds and fruit are credited with hundreds of applications,
both practical and medicinal.
locals feel a spiritual connection to these trees - believing them to
possess mystical powers - and use them in rituals to promote healing
trees are living monuments, the oldest natural things in Africa,
outlasting every plant and animal around them.
trees have evolved formidable resilience in order to survive in some
of the driest, rockiest areas of this continent.
for all the hostility of much of their habitat, African baobabs live
longer and grow larger than most other trees in the world.
is the great paradox of their existence.
baobab tree is some things to many people, and many things to some.
is food for humans and their animals, a pharmacy to treat tropical
sickness, and a provider of raw materials for almost limitless
the April 1962 issue of Notes Africaines from Senegal, J G Adam
concludes that 'in reading of the variety of uses for the different
parts of the baobab, a wise man would almost be tempted to take up
the life of a hermit in its shade; he will lack for nothing in his
life if he chooses his subject well'.
relationships between humans and the baobab are explored too, often
illustrated by delightful anecdotes.
rich and enthusiastic text is complemented by evocative, colourful
images that show the curious baobab in all its many stages, moods and
guises - and sometimes in the most unlikely places.
book cannot fail to inspire.
Rupert Watson was born in England, but has lived in Kenya for nearly
30 years, where he practices sometimes as a lawyer and mediator, and
always as a naturalist.
has authored two previous books - one on brown trout (The
Trout-A Fisher man's Natural History) and the other on the
Salmonidae family (Salmon, Trout and Charr of
also written natural history and travel articles for a wide range of
publications including New Scientist, London Times, Independent,
Geographical Magazine, Africa Geographic and Travel Africa.
African Baobab' is published
by Struik Publishers (a division of New Holland Publishing Ltd.) and
is now available in local book stores.
further information visit: www.struik.co.za
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