By Bubacarr Gaye
For decades now, citizens of Torro Ba village have embraced the tradition of reaping God’s property annually. Torro Ba is a humble village; engulfed with beautiful, loving, religious and caring people. The village is pinned at the stomach of Lower Baddibu District, North Bank Region.
On the east side of it, it is covered with hundreds of tall, hefty, baobab trees; on the west side, it’s the coastal part occupied with lakes, mangroves, palm trees, cashews and different kinds of trees. In all, Toro Ba is a belt with lots of trees and blessed with natural endowments.
Pivotally, at the heart of the village, you’ve a big mosque, rectangular in shape with two minarets, tall, slender tower situated at one of the corners of the mosque. Of course, an ablution fountain is not left out in the enclosure.
As the religious practice the village is known for, there’s a Madrassa established, just a stone’s throw to the mosque. Every parent vows to the mandate of enrolling his/ her child to “Dara” formally called Madrassa now or to the local Dara, “Dudha” we locally call it.
The village is indeed blessed with trees that are so much beneficial to the village and its citizens. Every season is a season of gain for the youths in reaping what I call God’s property (baobab fruits specially).
Here the season comes again and it was time to set a date for another reap of God’s property. Mostly, on a dim Friday of every year, youths of Torro Bah village do designate at least two days to embark on reaping God’s property; that stands to mean a season where youths of the village entangle themselves in reaping ripe fruits of the baobab trees surrounding the village. This occasion does happen annually.
In that, most of them formed groups or partnered with the person he (shy to use she because it is an occasion that is actively involved by males) resourcefully mingled with. On that night before the appointed day for the occasion, groups or partners made their arrangements as to what part of God’s Property to reap. Some slept with the catchword “I am going to have the highest reap.”
Soon after the call for the Fajr prayer, they woke up, washed their faces, picked up the kettle and gently performed ablution, wore their decent clothes or haftans clouded with the ‘taqiyah’ and gently marched to the mosque to observe the Fajr prayer.
Here, the first glimpse of the sunlight exhibits to begin the Saturday; light emitted at low temperatures from a source that is not incandescent. The weather is so embracing: hearing birds singing on every tree, hens clucking, donkeys braying, horses whinnying, sheep bleating and women on their daily domestic hassle to put compounds in order. The environment was so witty and entertaining. Everybody tends to love it. I love it.
Moreover, the stick of the clock is ticking towards 7am, cocks-crowing, youths picked up their “go-to-hells”, cutlasses, sacs, knives, sickles, bottles of water (to keep their throats wet), and other items and head to the baobab zone. As you approach the zone, all you see after raising your head are smiling baobab fruits waiting to be reaped.
Locally, you heard them communicating “boy, aegal buibi b ni mann ma dem eggh belleh”. All plans were fixed harmoniously and everybody rushed to the tree(s) they identified, climbed gently, and started plucking out the baobab fruits. What’s used for harvesting is a long stick tied with a sickle at the tip.
All you hear within that vicinity is the sound “bumm!” “bumm!” which tells the community that today is the day for reaping God’s Property.
Alhagie Pachichi (a created character), an influential youth, was recognized as the man who got the highest reap of the God’s Property, last year. Everybody wanted to partner with him. Alhagie is tall, with a pale face, skinny, light and flexible. His dexterity in climbing trees is unquestionable. No matter how tall the baobab tree is, Alhagie will climb it. There are baobab trees that are specially left for him to reap.
“Last year was my best harvest from this baobab tree. I had at least 10 full bags of baobab pieces and I had a good sale because the price was so good,” he said in his ragged trousers and dusted face.
“The village is just naturally gifted. Imagine all these trees surrounding us are impacting our lives. Every season, the people of the village gather here to reap these fruits that are brought to us by God freely.”
Now the females are done with their family chores. They picked up their buckets, put on their head ties, and mildly marched in gaggles to the zone of reaping the God’s Property.
Soon after they arrived, they were welcomed with greetings and smiles and never forgot to send the greetings they are known for “Ornn Jarama”.
In a long distance, Fatou was seen carrying a big bowl on her head which gave somebody a smile because lunch was coming.
As the clock ticks towards midday, women keep coming in their gaggles to have their shares of God’s Property. They gently walked from group to group and presented themselves to help in the process of reaping the baobab trees because it requires help in gathering the baobab fruits and removing the shell of the baobab fruits.
Upon accepting help, some sat on stones, some on logs, and others who were ready enough came with their wooden stool to sit on. Some went around under the baobab trees to pick all the fallen fruits, gather them in one place and start cracking the baobab fruits; all it requires is a heavy stick or a sizable stone to crack it.
As they hit the fruit with a stone or stick, you see the white pieces of the fruit comfortably lying and smiling; they removed it and put it in buckets.
As the day was about to give a wave for the next day to come, youths were almost done reaping the baobab fruits. Sacs were loaded to the brim and tied up to be transported home.
On Sunday morning, it was a wrap-up day of reaping the God’s Property. The village people had enough sleep and relaxation. They walked gently to the zone again to finish reaping the baobab fruits and gather all their stuff home. After all, it was a concluded and successful season for reaping God’s property.
On a calm evening, the alkalo of the village took us through the history of the village and its connection with the baobab trees.
“The baobab trees have helped a lot in the village. It fortifies us from the heavy wind, and soil erosion. Equally, it is a means of finance for the youth and the entire village. Additionally, it serves as a food for us because women sometimes use it in certain cooking and we also use it for medical purposes,” he highlighted.
The people in the village are well connected and come to common terms when it comes to reaping the God’s property.
As the two-day reaping comes to an end, youths of the village went home with horse carts loaded with baobab and waited for sale. It was an exciting moment for the people of the village. The harvests were sold at better prices and smiles were pasted on everybody’s face.
Now it’s time to praise God!
“Oh our caring God!
Thanks for giving us these baobab trees!
We are forever grateful!
Come again next season!”