THE TREE’S PRAYER ~ anonymous
You who would pass by and raise your hand
against me, harken ere you harm me:
I am the heat of your fire on the cold
winter’s nights, the friendly shade
screening you from the summer sun,
and my fruits are refreshing draughts
quenching your thirst as you journey on.
I am the beam that holds your house,
the board of your table, the bed on
Which you lie and the timber that
builds your boat
I am the handle of your hoe, the door of
your homestead, the wood of your cradle
and the shell of your coffin
I am the gift of God and the friend of man.
You who pass by listen to my prayer –
HARM ME NOT!
Gonarezhou may be known as the place of elephants, but it is also the place of trees! Tree lovers, you should visit this place. L.J Mullin’s wonderful book “Historic Trees of Zimbabwe” details a number of trees from the South Eastern Lowveld of Zimbabwe. I recently had the privilege to visit a few in the Gonarezhou National Park.
We travelled to the Chamuluvati Pool, close to the confluence of the Rundi and Sabi rivers, to see a Red Mahogany (Khaya anthotheca), believed to be the tallest tree in the Park. His base is huge – your neck cranes to see the tree’s top, and catching his entire beauty on camera is almost impossible. You really get to see how tall he is when you look back across the river at Chitove; he towers over the other trees. Sadly the poor old man is slowly dying, so if you want to see him don’t delay!
Another amazing tree we visited is the legendary baobab (Adansonia digitata) near the Tambwahata Pan. This tree was thought to be the office of Shadreck, the infamous poacher who operated in Gonarezhou National Park during the 1960s and early 70s. I have recently re-read parts of two books, one by Colin Saunders, the other by John Osborne. Both write of Shadreck, his dreadful antics and how he continually evaded arrest. Legend claims that during a drunken brag back at his hometown in Mozambique, Shadreck boasted of how he outsmarted everyone by hiding inside a hollow baobab tree whilst everyone hunted for him! Today it is believed this baobab was not “Shadreck’s Office”, but I loved the story and when peering into the smelly depths of the “cave” of the tree you could almost smell him and his bloody hands.
It is now thought the tree that served as Shadreck’s “office” was destroyed by elephants in the 1980s. Perhaps an act of retribution for the many elephants he ruthlessly and cruelly slaughtered during his life as Gonarezhou’s most famous poacher?
What is Zimbabwe if not a place for late night stories round a crackling fire with snuffling and creeping of every kind of wild creature close by? We have the honor of living with Gonarezhou right at our doorstep, and I can never get enough of this wonderful place. Every visit is different, and there is so much to see the senses are delightfully overwhelmed.
By Denise Warth
I’m married to Shane, a true blue, born and bred Zimbabwean. There is never enough time in a day for all the gardening, sewing, painting and crafting! Born to teach, I love cooking and love Jesus! We live near the best bass fishing dams in Africa and are within spitting distance from paradise on earth – Gona re Zhou! What more could anyone want?