Gardens play a role in development of a community, state, nation, and add great value to the entire eco-system, as plants and animals dependent on them are sustained and conserved. They are resources for recreation, education, research opportunities and employment, raising the living standard of the host community members and residents in surrounding states. In many communities, gardens provide refuge from the stress of the city, helping modern adults and children reconnect with plants and the natural world. Furthermore, they provide immense economic value, as it is known that the proximity of a garden to a property increases the value of the property. In addition to these aesthetic benefits, urban trees improve air quality by trapping harmful particulates, help in reducing land erosion by controlling rainfall run off, absorbing carbon dioxide to fight climate change and producing oxygen.
Fight Against Desert Encroachment (FADE) Africa in alliance with the Delta State Government and Africa Rising Foundation, the conveners of the “Mandela Is…” campaign, established a garden of 95 trees in Asaba Delta State, to commemorate Nelson Mandela’s 95th birthday, as the rest of the world marks the July 18 United Nations endorsed International Mandela Day, to celebrate the world-revered icon. “The Mandela Garden of 95 Trees” located inside Asaba International Airport, Delta State, was commissioned in October 2013.
The Phase One of the project involved the creation of the garden which is 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 trees as well. Amenities such as Children's playground, equipped gazebo, male and female conveniences, enquiry office and gatehouse have been provided.
Members of the Nelson Mandela Family led by Ndaba Mandela, the Chairman of Africa Rising Foundation, were present to flag off the planting of the trees at the launch of the Mandela Garden of 95 Trees in Nigeria Construction of the second phase would involve the development of an exhibition hall, library, 500-seater conference centre, sets of paired hospitality suites and a Games reserve. These are aimed at servicing the needs of both neighboring communities and visiting tourists. Dignitaries on state visits can also be brought to the garden to plant a tree in honor of Nelson Mandela.
There are high expectations that the park will service about 5 states in the South- South and Southeastern regions of Nigeria who are within a two hour drive from Asaba, as the garden is strategically located within the Asaba International Airport hence easy to navigate. The library and exhibition hall will be equipped with materials that depict the life and message Nelson Mandela was popularly known for. The completed resort will offer both tourism, educational provisions for the general public as well as meet other socioeconomic needs.
FADE Africa, has over the years been responsible for fighting desertification in Northern Nigeria and promoting awareness on the dangers of environmental degradation, climate change and global warming in farming communities bordering the Sahara Desert. On the other hand, Dr Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan, the Executive Governor of Delta State and host of the ceremony is celebrated for his green economic strides in environmental conservation. This perfect partnership gave birth to beautiful garden, the first of its kind in Nigeria and sub-Saharan Africa in memory of one Africa’s bravest.
FADE’s association with Nelson Mandela and South Africa dates back to when FADE was an official delegation to the Earth Summit in 2000 and were received by the Mandela Family and Mr Jacob Zuma who was then Deputy President of South Africa. The association, which has budded over the years, culminated in a relationship that landed Nigeria and indeed Delta State, one of the monuments in the world today, the Mandela Garden of 95 Trees