Provided by: Esther Thompson Nigeria Ltd.
The Nelson Mandela Family, Delta State Government and the Fight Against Desert Encroachment (FADE) are building a Garden of 95 Trees in honour of the former South African freedom fighter, President and global statesman. The garden is situated on a 6 hectare land at the International Airport in Asaba, Delta State.
The Mandela Garden of 95 Trees, which promises to be a major tourism hub in Africa, will showcase the enduring legacy of the iconic global leader, with the unveiling of a life-size bronze statue of the African elder statesman at the heart of the garden by Delta State Governor, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan, on October 3, 2013.
On the same day, the garden will be commissioned by the members of the Mandela family led by his grandsons, Ndaba Mandela and Kweku Mandela. Both Ndaba and Kweku are currently committed to showcasing the wealth, beauty and potential of Africa through a global NGO, Africa Rising.
The 95 trees at the garden were deliberately planted to commemorate the historic 95th birthday of the iconic statesmen who turned 95 on July 18, 2013. Mandela spent all of his life fighting against unjust laws and segregation in South Africa, rising from 27 years of imprisonment to become the country's first black president and the symbol of democracy in Africa.
The project is also coming on the heels of the endorsement of the United Nation's International Mandela Day, July 18, by the United Nations Headquarters.
The founder and Chief Executive Officer of FADE, the host/organizer of the ceremony, Dr Newton Jibunoh, spent most of his life fighting and highlighting the evils of desert encroachment, with a three-time life threatening drive through the Sahara desert to win and sustain attention on the environment.
Jibunoh, now 70, and greatly inspired by the perseverance and patience of Nelson Mandela in his work, plans to retire to the Mandela Garden of 95 Trees.
"I will run the park for the rest of my life as the keeper," Jibunoh said. "I'll build myself a small hut where I will live to keep it. My family will have to come and visit me there. They know my passion. It helps that the project is situated at the airport. They can always fly in and fly out. I believe Asaba provides a more conducive atmosphere than Lagos, London or New York for the garden."
The Mandela Garden of 95 Trees in Asaba is the fourth in the world, with others in New York, London and South Africa.
Jibunoh adds that: "We are aware that three other monuments are being created around the world by the African Rising Foundation namely in Washington, London and Johannesburg and we count it a great privilege that the Mandela Garden of 95 Trees Asaba will be the fourth."
The Phase One of the project, according to Jibunoh, involves the creation of the garden which has been designed in the shape of the Map of Africa using 95 trees with the maps of Nigeria, South Africa and Delta State clearly delineated with the trees.
The garden also has a children's playground, equipped gazebo, conveniences, enquiry office and a gatehouse. It is meant to serve as both a tourist and educational haven especially with the development of the Phase Two, which will have an exhibition hall, library, conference centre, hospitality suites and games reserve.
On Mandela, Jibunoh observed that: "We have to use Mandela to inspire people. We used to have Kwame Nkrumah. There is no other Mandela anywhere. He gave the world all he had. He went to prison for 27 years and came out with nothing. He ruled South Africa for only one term as president and came out with nothing. That's the legacy!"
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