Learning Through Literature - "The Baobab Tree"

an East African Tale

    Once upon a time, at the edge of a small African town, there grew a huge tree. It was a very strange tree. It had a very fat grey trunk and there were some short tangled branches at the top. It was a large tree but it only had a few small leaves. This tree, called a baobab tree, didn’t give much shade, had fruit that wasn’t good, and had wood that couldn’t be used for building or burning.
    Why was a tree like this created? Listen and I will tell you.
    At the beginning of time, when the world was created, life was very different for the baobab tree. God, who was called Mungu, made all the plants and animals. The animals could run about and choose the best places to live, but it was much harder for the plants. All plants have roots, deep in the ground, that keep them in one spot. Mungu felt sorry for the plants and so he planted them wherever they asked.
    One of the biggest, most beautiful trees created was the baobab tree, whose name was Mbuyu. He had a smooth grey trunk, lovely long branches, and many bright green leaves.
    “Where would you like to live?” Mungu asked him.
    “Please plant me in the valley, where it is warm,” Mbuyu replied. “I don’t want my leaves to be killed by cold wind.”
    So God planted Mbuyu in a lovely warm valley. It rained and the baobab tree grew and grew, and he had more and more beautiful leaves.

Comprehension Questions:
  1. Is the baobab tree useful? Why or why not?
  2. Who was Mungu?
  3. Why did Mungu let the plants choose where to live?
  4. Where did Mbuyu ask to be planted?
    Then one day the rain stopped. It didn’t rain and it didn’t rain. Each day was hotter than the one before, and the Mbuyu’s beautiful leaves dried and fell to the ground. The great tree cried to Mungu, “I’m dying in this heat. I cannot live in the valley anymore. Please plant me where the cool winds blow.”
    The god, Mungu, agreed, and moved Mbuyu to the side of a mountain. The baobab tree was content. The cool breezes helped his leaves to grow, and he stood tall and strong again.
    One day it began to rain again. There was no warm sun for many days, and Mbuyu felt so cold. He shivered and shook and was very miserable. Again he called out to Mungu.
    “Mungu, please hear me! I was wrong—please plant me in my warm valley again. It is better to be hot than cold.”
    Mungu was not happy, but he agreed to move Mbuyu one more time. In the valley he dug a hole that was very wide and very deep. He took the tree and planted it upside down—with his branches in the ground and his roots in the sky.
    “What are you doing?” asked Mbuyu as his branches and beautiful leaves were covered with dirt.
    “I’m planting you with your mouth in the ground, so that I won’t have to hear your complaining,” said Mungu.

Comprehension Questions:
  1. Why did Mbuyu ask to be moved?
  2. Was the tree happy in his new home?
  3. Why did Mbuyu ask to be moved again?
  4. Why did Mungu plant the tree upside down?
Deeper Thought Questions:
  1. How could Mbuyu have avoided being planted upside down?
  2. How can you be happy in difficult or uncomfortable situations?
  3. How do you respond when other people complain to you? How do you wish other people would respond to your complaints?
  4. What can you learn from this story?

Photo taken from Wikipedia:
'''Photographer:''' [http://flickr.com/photos/35034359904@N01 quinn norton] '''Title:''' Baobob tree in Africa '''Taken on:''' 2004-05-29 02:09:02 Category:Africa {{CC-BY}}