In the savannas of Zambia and Zimbabwe, scattered trees and dense woodlands emerge from the sprawling grassland. The Zambezi River flows quiet and wide before plummeting with a roar into a deep gorge at Victoria Falls. Vibrant towns with high-speed internet and tiny villages with no electricity appear along roadways and riverways.
This is where Bézi's ingredients originate.
It is a gorgeous scene, evoking wonder and mystery. Like many remote outposts the world over, townsmen and villagers share the habitat with wild animals and vegetation. Majestic animals like elephants, rhinoceros, giraffes and zebra have long enjoyed the leaves and fruit of indigenous marula, mongongo and baobab trees. Locals sometimes refer to these as miracle trees, or trees of life, due to their medicinal and nutritional value. The trees' fruit, seeds, bark, leaves and wood all provide for the needs of the people and animals. Everything has a use.
There are no plantations. No tree farms. Just a scattering of trees where wind and animals drop the seeds.
The oil we use in Bézi products comes from the seeds of the trees' fruit. Women and men trek into the bush to collect ripe fruit that has fallen to the ground. Harvesters I talked with in a tiny village in Zambia explained how they leave at least 30% of the fallen fruit for the animals.
The practice of leaving a remnant ensures that trees repopulate. It also ensures that wild animals have enough food to eat. With full bellies, the animals are less likely to raid the villagers’ gardens. Ingenious!