Symbol for blood and hope, the flame tree

This special tree, the Erythrina abyssinica, can be seen here and there in the landscape of South Sudan. Special because of the bright red flowers that bloom in a dry period.

Just when everything is dry and barren you see the red flowers of the flame tree standing proudly in the dry landscape.

You often encounter the ‘Lucky bean’ or the ‘Flame tree’ in South Sudan as a young tree, about 2 to 3 meters high. But make no mistake, the Erythrina abyssinica can eventually grow up to 10 meters high. The flowers attract many species of birds and insects. After it finishes flowering, it produces a seed capsule, which is long and cylindrical and woody. A seed capsule can grow up to 30 cm long and contains bright red and black seeds.

Use of the Flame tree

The seeds are used as a poison to paralyze fish so that the fish can be easily caught. Another application of the seeds is that they are used for making bracelets and necklaces. The soft wood of the trunk is used to carve small statues and animals. The wood is also used for making beehives and African tamtams (drums).

Blood of the martyrs

Special to mention is that the flame tree is also planned at the Munyonyo monument in Kampala. This ‘Basilica of the Uganda Martyrs’ is the place where the king of Buganda, Mwanga II decided in 1886 to put Christians to death. At the Maria chapel on the grounds of Munyonyo, the flame tree symbolizes the blood that has been shed.

Besides the fact that this tree symbolizes the blood of the martyrs for us, it is especially special that these flowers are so beautiful in the middle of times of great drought. This tree symbolizes the shed blood of the martyrs and hope for people in South Sudan and Uganda!

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