The mango tree

Christmas: a period of reflection. As a Christmas great, we give you an almost extinct story from the book ‘Parabels van Grote Spin’ (Parables of Great Spider) by Bob Papeland. The book is not available anymore. The key question in this narrative is: ‘who is teaching who?’ And: ‘what does the story tell us about our cultures?’ Please share you thoughts and write a reply.

Somewhere in Africa, a black man is sleeping in the shade of a giant mango tree. A white man, just arrived from the West, comes over, sees him sleeping and wakes him up: “Get up, sleepyhead, you are able to be lazy throughout your whole life. Prefer to climb into the mango tree and pick its fruit.”
“Why would I, white man? The mango tree drops sufficient fruit daily. I collect them for myself and my family. The rest would spoil in my barn.”
“You should not store them in your barn. You have to transport them to the market and sell them for much money.”
“I understand, white man: I can save the money because that doesn’t spoil.”
“No, silly, you should not keep it. Money must move.”
“Ok, white man. I will give a big party for the whole village. And you can come too.”
“No, no, no! No partying! That’s wasted money. You have to use it well.”
“How am I able to do this, white man?”
“Listen, from the money you earn on the market you buy one mango tree. After a while you are able to buy a second one and finally all the mango trees in this town square.”
“But these mango trees belong to no one. Everyone should eat their fruits. ”
“That’s just it. Now they’re everybody’s, but then they’re yours. Nobody but you, may get the fruit. Whoever wants to eat a mango, should buy it from you in the market. I foresee a clear picture: you’re a rich man and then … ”
“Yes, white man?”
“Then you slowly buy more mango trees in the area, until one day you own all mango trees in the country.”
“What should I do with all the mango trees in the country, white man? The fruits are rotting like a huge mountain covering our village, because no one can eat this many mangoes.”
“Be quiet, listen: of course all those mangoes are not eaten by your villagers. You start a canning factory where your mangoes are processed and canned. The cans are exported to the rich countries of the North, where the mango is a delicacy. Your little factory will grow to an enormous business. Many of your compatriots will work in your company. But you, you will not work anymore!”
“What will I do, white man?”
“On this exact spot, where it all began, you will built a house with a garden that includes the old town square. Between two mango trees, you’ll hang a hammock and you will rest in their shade.”
“But I am already resting in their shade, white man.”

Merry Christmas and a happy new year,

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2 Responses to “The mango tree”

  1. Anke Says:


  2. Opeldealer Says:

    Sweet, funny and depth

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