The plant that changed my life…

It seems like a lot has happened since we were in Arusha. On the last day there we recorded a few great stories. We were taken to visit a Maasai family by Patrick, one of the professors at the Nelson Mandela African Institute for Science and Technology.

It was such a privilege so be able to interview a 72 year old Maasai while his dad looked on, and his son interpreted for us. I have yet to do a transcript of the interview but we talked about, and heard about some great plants. It is the first time in Plant Stories Project interviews that we have used a translator, and it was a bit intimidating. At times Patrick had to translate from Swahili, which had been translated by the son from the Maasai language. Epic. 


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When we arrived back at the Institute we spoke to Patrick about his most important plant, which was the Legume family, Fabaceae. The potential for this family of plants to feed Africa is immense. He has done some great research into ways of increasing yields with Rhizobium bacteria with amazing results.

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The next story we recorded was from the Vice Chancellor of the Institute. He told us a great story about a local bush fruit – mkusu (Uapaca kirkiana).

He explained that when he was young he had gone with some friends into the bush to get some fruit during the school lunch time. They stayed a little too long, then when they returned to class they were all in trouble. The teacher told them they must tell their parents and the parents must come and talk to him the next day. Naturally they didn’t tell their parents so the next day the teacher asked – “did you tell your parents?” to which the answer “I forgot” was given. Out came the cane. He was caned until he admitted that he had lied to the teacher, and from that day onwards he was reformed. A new student. And now is Vice Chancellor of a great institute which has so much potential. Was it the fruit – or the cane… either way it was a plant that helped make the change.

The story is one of our best as it is so well told.


On the bus to Dar es Saalam the next day we saw massive fields of sisal being grown. I had never seen this grown commercially so it was fun to see (and try to get photos at 100kmph)

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We are in the process of putting together some outputs for the project and as part of that we have put some low res photos on Flickr.

After I finish this post I am going to eat a strange kind of custard apple.


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