It condenses all the depth of rooting. Both literally and figuratively. It is known as “Iroko”, in southern Nigeria and part of Benin. Its species is widespread in the tropical forests of West Africa, Gabon, Angola and even Mozambique. Standing majestically at 50 metres tall, this tree has a lifespan of 500 years. Everything about Iroko bears witness to its charisma and, above all, its strength and robustness. The Iroko bears one fruit a year. Unique. Alone. Secret. It is definitely unique and exceptional. Its splendour sharpens its curiosity.
Mystical and mythical, its grace manifests itself in the awe and veneration it inspires in people surrounding its space. Its virtues are said to be powerful. Its core concentrates all the generosity of traditional medicine. And that’s not all. Its fruit, bark, roots and leaves share this magnificence. Even today, the Iroko remains the tree of the situation. At a time when climate change is upsetting our equilibrium, Iroko effectively absorbs carbon dioxide (C02) and preserves the ecosystem.
The name of this magazine comes from the Iroko tree. From this symbol I wanted to extract the virtues and emphasise the final letter, to mark the flowering of altruism in special people: the Builders. Those who build the future of their fellow human beings, of the Earth. I call them “irokoos”, those rare species who remain on their feet in the invigorating and qualifying action of sustainability for the community. Builders of the future. In truth, Irokoos are resilient beings, full of hope and positivity. Irokoos, like the Iroko tree, regenerate from the ashes. They always find that hint of light that signals the horizon.
Now ringing like a bell in my head, this sentence left in the form of a testament by the eminent professor Albert Tévoédjrè sums up the part played by Providence in the life of the irokoos. They fall, but get up again to continue the work of benevolence. “At the very moment when men are rejoicing at having succeeded in blocking your path, God offers you the grace of a small path of frank resurrection that you must have the remarkable intelligence to discern and the humble audacity to take”.
It can lose its leaves, but never its roots. The Iroko grows secretly in the shade of brambles, which gives it no chance to mature. But its perseverance always wins them over. Once fully grown and fortified, the Iroko protects them from the height of its power. But it always remains isolated from the species in its outfit. Our mission is to reveal the Irokoos, embodying a vision without ever allowing themselves to be uprooted by the contingencies of life. Thinly leafed out like the Iroko, but still consolidated in their values.
The scholar Ralph Wado Emerson, the leader of transcendentalism in the United States, engraved a sublime message for posterity: “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail”. Because, as the saying goes, “nothing great is achieved without paying the price”. And nothing can stop the Irokoos, no cowardice and no difficulty. Builders of the future, they never die. Irokoos are timeless in their reality. Of course, they are.
Dr Alain Metodjo, Editor