Planting a tree that will stand 2 000 years as a symbol for peace

You have seen such pictures many times: Villagers get together to plant trees. Increasingly a frequent sight in Africa when governments and local communities and NGO:s try to preserve the soil, save agriculture and stop desertification, etc.

But the last week in Nakamtenga, this tree ceremony had an even deeper meaning. The tiny  trunk is a baobab. An African symbol, an iconic and gigantic tree loved by elephants and people alike. These are trees which often live more than 2 000 years, linking past and present and promise long term prosperity and stability.

In other words, a symbol for peace. In the present situation in Burkina Faso, the idea with this ceremony was to, even stronger, advocate community spirit and togetherness. The country is indeed peaceful but attacks by militias in border areas, worry its citizens.

The proposal and gift in order to plant such a “tree for peace” came from Swedish school teacher Christiane Furnkrantz, a long time supporter of the organisation. During several visits, she has notably helped to develop the library and train its staff.

One Friday afternoon, after school, almost the entire Nakamtenga got together and cheered and sang as three veteran staff dug in: Parmoussa Sawadogo in charge of agriculture, Marcel Ilboudou who is part of the garden team and in a brown suit the so called village Godfather, Joseph Ilboudou.                .

Improved living standards and better social conditions are strongly linked with peace building. Or, to quote the Yennenga philosophy: “... because a population with hope for a brighter future, equipped with the right tools, will also have the power to make their local and national authorities implement democracy and human rights.”

So even if this skinny baobab is among other trees earlier planted in a fenced enclosure – it will for coming generations stand out as the Nakamtenga Peace Tree.