A plantain, should you be wondering, is like a banana―only much bigger. And among the Yoruba of South-West Nigeria, plantain trees are symbolic of fertility and indestructibility. “But how so?”, you wonder. Well, it is at this point that I tell you a little story…
Where I live, there’s a copse of plantain trees in the back garden. So abundantly did they grow that their luxuriant leaves reached high enough to touch the power cables supplying electricity to the house. But so cautious were we of a possible electrocution that we decided to lob off the trespassing leaves; an act that was to become the trees’ first tragedy.
Because the leaves―which convert sunlight into energy required by the trees―had been cut off; the fruits on the trees likewise stopped all further growth, as if in protest at their displeasure. Their travail though was far from over.
Only a few weeks later, and a severe storm―one so destructive as to rip the roof off houses―buffeted the trees and fell some of them. And there, prostrate they laid, defeated and decaying.
But anyone who knows the story of plantain trees also knows that while they may be down, they are never completely out; for with them, death is synonymous with birth.
Even if a plantation of these trees should ever burn to the ground; you can be certain―as day follows night―that they will without fail rise from the ashes of their charred remains. Some even say that the only way to kill a plantain tree with any certainty is to “cut down the trunk and sow it with salt!” Yet, even that may not be entirely foolproof.
And so, it happened that five months after the double tragedies, new shoots have arisen where the former ones fell! And while it may be several seasons yet before their fruits gift us their sweet blessings; the real victory for these hardy plants is that they somehow always find a way to thrive against all odds.
And therein lies their much talked-about quality.
Now, if Man is a microcosm of the Universe as some have said; then it would mean that when we see beauty, wisdom, strength, and all such virtues in Nature, we ought to be reminded that we can reflect them too.
Yes, even the fertility and indestructibility of plantain trees.
And as you add another feather to your life’s cap―this knowledge that there’s a plantain tree in you―may you now never forget that you are fertile (in more ways than one!), and indestructible when you endeavour to leave something of yourself in others.
Now, if you like it, you can surely put a 💚 on it!