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Our Great Gardener

By Karen Vally on 12 Dec 2013

Not much has been said of Nelson Mandela's lifelong love of gardening. His first plot was a rocky patch, only one yard wide. He used his hands to dig, as he did not have any tools. Thus he found a way to provide his fellow inmates with fresh vegetables.  He loved to plant and reap in rain and in sunshine, knowing that to exercise even a little influence over that small piece of earth, was a way of controlling his dignity, and his memories. He buried the memoir he wrote of his stay in prison, in this garden.

"You must find your own garden," said our beloved Madiba. He understood so clearly the importance of cultivating a place apart, a pocket of calm amid the harsh realities of his incarceration. 

" As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world...  as in being able to remake ourselves. "( Mahatma Gandhi). Nelson Mandela used his 27 years in prison to "remake" himself. He emerged a totally selfless, humble and enlightened human being, who radiated love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (he managed to do what most of us will never manage to do, and that is to tame his ego).

Our everyday lives are our "gardens". Let us honour Madiba in our daily lives by sowing seeds of respect, understanding, forgiveness, tolerance, commitment, generosity, compassion, willingness and humility. Let us water these seeds with love, peace, joy, praise, appreciation and encouragement. Let us work hard and enjoy a bountiful " harvest ". Let us lead by example and encourage those who sow seeds of arrogance, greed and self-interest  to sow different seeds, ones that will flourish for the good of all, instead. " And let us not get tired of doing what is right..." Galations 6: 9.

" Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny. "( C.S Lewis). Thank you, Madiba, for showing us how to do things differently and that nothing is impossible. May each of us adopt your values and appreciate children as much as you did, realising that we can learn so much from them. May we be inspired to perform daily actions that will contribute towards the unity of our country, an ideal for which, in 1962, you were prepared to die.


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