Sunday, October 17, 2010

Knoweldge Sharing - under l’arbre à palabres

Share Fair 2010 - KMIS Addis team tried out the 'arbrepalabre' -outside meeting space for the share fair

After I saw this photo of “l’arbre à palabres” from Geneviève Renard of ILRI, I was curious and asked her to explain what it was. Here is what she said:

The ‘arbre à palabres’ is dear to me because I lived in West Africa for a long time and miss those baobabs!

The ‘arbre à palabres’, metaphorically the ‘talking tree’ or literally the ‘discussion tree’ is usually found in every village in West Africa where political and social meetings are held under the large canopy trees providing shade. Decisions are taken and issues are sorted out by elders usually. It is said that “What an elder sees sitting on the ground, a younger person cannot see even if he/she is up in a tree."

Interestingly enough, such a tree is popular in many cultures and traditions in Africa (and elsewhere!) and that is how we came up at the Share Fair with the oromo tree, Odda (in Ethiopia) which is a sacred tree for social and religious meetings and the Bazara which is a forum, a meeting place in Swahili.

They are just three traditional meeting places we named after those trees in the AgKnowledge Africa Share Fair, where people can sit and have informal meetings, just discuss and have nice talks.

And jokingly she adds, “We just hope that it does not rain!”

Thank you Geneviève for the explanation! Indeed, as you mentioned, a tree is popular in many cultures. In India, where I come from, the village elders are formed into an elected Gram Panchayat and who share latest news/knowledge and make decisions about local affairs, often meeting under the a tree (although it is changing now).

In the previous Share Fairs, we did not have a "physical" knowledge tree so this is going to be exciting new format for the Share Fair to facilitate knowledge sharing and connecting. Will keep you all posted!

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