Men and Women; (5) Abe (Oil Palm)
by Phil Bartle, PhD
The oil palm (abe) has thirty (ie many or uncountable) uses. You can not taboo the oil palm; you will always touch it.
A young man stripping palm branches to make baskets and mats.
This young lad is stripping the branches of abe. From its beginning, the branches come out from the trunk at ground level. They are cut off as the tree grows, always a few at the top for the tree to live and grow.
Baskets Made from Oil Palm Branches
These strips of branches can be used to make baskets (as seen above), mats, skirts, fences, or drying racks to dry the cocoa, or many other woven items.
Making a roof from palm branches
Palm Branches Used as Roofing
A blind man making string from palm branches
The string can be used to make palm skirts used by the older local gods who speak Guan, or it can be used to tie together mats that are used to dry cocoa.
Palm Branch Skirt Worn by One of the Old Guan Gods
This mat is used to dry cocoa beans, Ghana's major cash crop
Even after the tree is used to make palm wine by draining all the sap, it does not stop being productive. After all the sap is tapped, and all the branches removed, the tree is allowed to rot. In the rotting palm tree, a special kind of grub grows –– about the size, consistency and colour of my thumb, without the thumbnail. It is the larval stage of the rhinoceros beetle. Harvested, the grubs can be fried, and alone they are delicious, tasting much like shrimp minus the sea flavour. They can also be put in soups and stews, if there are enough left.
The Larval Stage of the Rhinoceros Beetle
About the time of the first rains each year, a particular mushroom grows only in the rotting (usually red) soil left by the disintegrating tree. It is delicious, and highly prized.
The abe has thirty (many, uncountable) uses.
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