Renowned author and Literary icon, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie made an august appearance at the Chief Newton Jibunoh-sponsored Mandela Garden of Trees in Asaba, Delta State on Friday, August 2.
The acclaimed Conqueror of Sahara Desert, Dr. Newton Jibunoh invited the multiple award winning author, Chimamanda Adichie, to Asaba, Delta State, to plant a tree at the famous Nelson Mandela Gardens of 95 Trees, a world class resort in the state capital, to celebrate the late freedom fighter and former President of South Africa, Mr. Nelson Mandela.
Ms Adichie who arrived in classy crimson dress filled the assembly with her smiles as can be seen when she took a shovel, dug up the ground and planted a tree in the blooming Mandela Garden of 95 trees.
The celebrated environmentalist and conqueror of the Sahara Desert, Dr. Newton Jibunoh, as the Chief Executive of Fight Against Desert Encroachment (FADE) partnered with the Delta State Government to make broadcast that well over 134,000 square metres of prime land within the Asaba International Airport complex has been designed to serve as “The Nelson Mandela Garden of 95 Trees.”
The conceptual design of the Mandela Garden is in the shape of the map of Africa, featuring a life-size bronze statue of Nelson Mandela, 95 trees symbolically planted as the Robben memorial, freedom mini-gardens, well-landscaped terraced fences made of hedge plants, concrete walkways, state-of-the-art restrooms, adequate parking, Nelson Mandela playground and park for children.
“I will run the park for the rest of my life as the keeper,” Jibunoh says in his Lagos Island Didi Museum office. “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 conducive atmosphere better than Lagos, London or New York!”
According to Jibunoh, “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 of presidency and came out with nothing. That’s the legacy!”
“There are so many things to challenge the world in Nigeria,” he affirms. He argues that he had seen it all, from the days of colonialism through the Apartheid years and the Nigerian Civil War. He believes that Nigeria deserves celebration for leading the charge for the freedom of Nelson Mandela and South Africa.
“We lost Barclays Bank and British Petroleum in the Mandela fight,” he says. “Nigeria was a Frontline State. We cannot now be a minor player. This project will re-establish Nigeria as a Frontline State. Our fight was not in vain. Through the Mandela Gardens, Mandela will live forever! It will put Nigeria in a different platform.”
Chimamanda Adichie on her part, dwelt on the need to have a truth and reconciliation committee in Nigeria, much like Mandela did in post-apartheid South Africa. She argued that major issues following the Biafra war had not been addressed. The unfair treatment of the Igbo galls the celebrated novelist, author of Half of a Yellow Sun, based on the Nigeria-Biafra war. Citing the Asaba massacre and issues such as the as yet unresolved abandoned properties matter in Port Harcourt; Chimamanda avers that the country cannot hope to make much progress without redressing injustice and embracing the truth and history.