Written by Imeldah Kondo

Hello. My name is Balla and I have been around for about 1000 years. As I tell you this story, I do realize the age difference between us. Creatures such as yourself may not be able to comprehend that amount of time. For this I do not blame you, I shall let the season speak.

The seasons have come and gone and yet they remain the same in time. When the sun is high, bright, hot and mighty, my tiny leaves fall to the ground leaving me bare. This way I stay hydrated. My roots are singular and reach deep into the earth searching for water down under. My wide stem helps by storing water enough to sustain me. My seeds are very rich in the foods the humans want; medicine, oil…that kind of thing.

Ideally, I should live much longer. 1000 years is only an expression that humans give me. In those years, I have felt much, been touched much, seen much. The two-legged ones call me the “Tree of Life”. Having lived through hundreds of years this must be where the name stems from. Under the branches and tiny leaves I provide, besides my wide stem, men, women communities and children over many cultures have gathered; to eat my fruit, solve problems, for peace, to pray and unite, to play, among other fun things the two-legged ones do.

Nowadays, I am a wonder. With our number decreasing rapidly, the two-legged ones keep trying to save me. Save? I question their motive. Time for that seems to have long gone. Many have travelled from their homes only to behold my ageless beauty. To save our kind requires much more work and time. Regardless, we are grateful.

Disaster has befallen out kind and The Mother dictates that we fall. My insides have been getting weaker in this time due to being completely unable to handle the change. Oh, how I wish you were able to see The Mother before the drastic changes. She did nothing more, nothing less, and nothing else but sustain us all. The big blue would send us water that would trickle down from the leaves to the branches and down to the stems, cooling the whole body. Water would sink down into the mother making the earth soft. Wind would move at drastic speeds though it would never push me, my structure being straight and sturdy. We had helpers all around us who would help disperse my seeds. Sadly, a number of them left and never came back. It’s been harder ever since. It wasn’t just me and my kind around. Oh no. Other trees grew below us forming heavy forests that we were a part of. Now, just like my kind, we are all reducing in number.

We are dying younger than we should. At 1000 years, I have another 2000 to go, yet I have never felt older, heavier and even more tired. The seasons have changed and no longer can we be sustained. My stature is in question every day that I choose to stand tall, weak as I may be. There is less water from the big blue and Mother Earth is dryer than she has ever been. The air is too thick, the sun is too hot. We have lived our lifespan, though too short. The time has come for our kind to fall, fall in half, and return to her, the earth. As the days pass, I see the impact of our departure. The big blue has shifted to releasing water where she never used to and holding on when she should let the rain fall. The sun is scorching all over, her protective blanket is gone. Without us, the air is only going to get thicker, heavier and dirtier as the other living creatures slowly go extinct. Darker days ahead it seems.

Written by Imeldah Kondo aka Antisocial Octopus (The Octopus lives within the realms of the ocean, learning the strings that pull the visual. Seen rarely on land, sometimes in a coffee shop but the young samurai sleeps quietly underwater and touches the tips of light that travels) Photographer. Digital artist. Writer.

This piece was produced during The Great African Caravan Collaborative writing workshops in Nairobi Kenya focusing on the environment. The tree in the featured images is considered one of the oldest trees in the world. It’s located in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, CA, and is estimated to be over 4800 years.

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Written by The Great African Caravan

The Great African Caravan is the first major travel project by the Art Caravan Association. 12 international artists from all around the globe (India, Argentina, Britain, Uganda, Germany, Kenya and Kosovo) traveled for 7 months through the continent of Africa covering 10 countries.

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Silent Suicide