Mumpeke trees, or yellow plum trees (Ximenia americana L.) are found in all tropical countries, from South America to Africa, as well as in Australia and India.
A typical bush of the mopane ecosystem, which is one dominated by mopane trees, also known as Balsam trees (Mopane Colophospermum) that dominates the area around Bibala, a town in Namibe Province.
The Mumpeke tree is a deciduous, spiny bush, with tough leaves and light yellow flowers. The fruits are oval and about three cm long, with a yellow color that tends towards orange.
Though it is edible, the fruit is almost never eaten, as it is incredibly sour, and as such is not that appreciated by the communities that live between Bibala and Vieri. In other parts of the world the fruits are used to make jams.
The fruit is also used for medicinal and cosmetic purposes: the seed of the fruit can be squeezed to obtain an mumpeke oil. This product is famous for its nutritional and soothing properties; indeed, it is used to care for skin and hair, especially among women, or for treating skin problems, muscle and joint pain, and in prevention of varicose veins. The oil is quite thick and dark brown, with a strong roasted scent.
The economy of the area around Bibala is developed almost entirely around this oil. It can be considered the most typical product of the communities, and is an important source of income.
The women are in charge of gathering the fruits, processing them and selling them. The oil extraction is a traditional process that is time consuming and difficult that the women do on the own, or sometimes with the help of the children.