I thought it strange that I had never before seen what was in his garden, the biggest anthill I had ever seen. Surely I would have noticed it before. It took up most of his front garden. Maybe it wasn’t there before, maybe it was somewhere else, but it was certainly there now. Could anthills shift their shape? It also had the largest pod mahogany tree that I had ever seen growing out of its crown. Were both the anthill and the pod mahogany apparitions in incarnate form?
My second postulation was that a pod mahogany seed had been brought to both anthills in a traditional necklace as part of a burial ritual. I had always felt lucky that I had a pod mahogany growing on my anthill, double lucky because the pod mahogany is also known as the inkehli lucky bean tree. It produces hard, black seeds with a bright red wattle like the ground hornbill. The Ndebele women of Matabeleland used lucky beans in tribal necklaces, especially for the unbetrothed. Maybe an Ndebele woman had died young, and had been buried in my anthill, whereupon a pod mahogany seed from her funeral adornment had grown in honour of her spirit. This would make this magnificent tree on my anthill all the more special, but surely this romantic story couldn’t be applied to both our anthills and both our trees?
Allan Taylor, author Luanshya musings
Picture. Jenny Hisin