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Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Kola Nut Tree was the First Tree on Earth

The Igbo, a tribe in southeastern Nigeria, consider the Kola-nut tree to be the first tree on earth; the Kola-nut or Oji and Nzu or chalk has significant meaning to the Igbo. The Igbo consider the Kola-nut to be a representation of friendliness and compassion. 


Kola-nut tree

The Kola-nut is a bitter caffeine-rich chestnut-sized fruit borne seed of a 20 feet high evergreen tree native to tropical Africa.  The Kola-nut is a rough, skinned fruit that grows up to 8" long. Inside the pod is the actual kola seed is thin with a white flesh but bright red inside when the seeds are sliced. Kola trees are native to West Africa found from Togo to Angola, Liberia to Côte d'Ivoire, Senegal and Nigeria.

Selling Kola-nut in the market
photo by Barry Pousman
The caffeine-containing seed smells a bit like rose petals. Kola nuts also have a reputation for treating headaches. By chewing the caffeine rich Kola-nut the caffeine is extracted, caffeine is considered as a cure for headaches.  The original Coca-Cola beverage was made with an extract of kola nuts and coca leaves.

Igbo tribe

The Igbo, a tribe in southeastern Nigeria, consider the Kola-nut tree to be the first tree on earth. They consider the Kola-nut to be a representation of friendliness and compassion. 

Igbo people are one of the largest ethnic groups in Africa and Oji (kola nut) is the first thing served to a visitor in an Igbo home. Kola-nut or Oji is served before an important centerpiece in many ceremonies and festivals. In addition, the breaking of the Kola-nut or Oji in an Igbo wedding is an ancient tradition rich in Igbo cultural customs representing love, harmony, unity, honesty and high esteem.

Nzu, a type of chalk or clay also plays a great role of social importance in Igbo culture. In Igbo society it is presented with a kola-nut or Oji to guests having a religious reflection of traditional Igbo goodwill. 

It also is a symbol of happiness conveyed by the host. Kola-nut or Oji and Nzu (chalk) has significant meaning to the Igbo because of the breaking, blessing and sharing of Kola-nut or Oji is a tradition which has been handed down from ancestor to ancestor for hundreds of years. This is why the Igbo consider the Kola-nut tree to be the first tree on earth.

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