Travelogue: The allure of Nelson Mandela Gardens — Kingsley Iweka

A sensory journey commences from the moment one steps into the Nelson Mandela Gardens.

The lush greenery and meticulously curated landscape create an ambiance that is both invigorating and serene. As the saying goes, “Asaba Amaka,” and indeed, this garden embodies the very essence of Asaba’s beauty.

Nestled within the confines of the Asaba International Airport, this hidden gem, the brainchild of the legendary Dr. Newton Jibunoh, offers more than just a temporary escape for weary travelers. Having crossed the Sahara Desert three times, Dr. Jibunoh’s adventurous spirit is woven into the very fabric of this unique haven.

There is a display of the vehicles he rode to conquer the vast expanse of the Sahara Desert. Showcasing the essence of his expeditions, each vehicle symbolizes the spirit of adventure and resilience that defines his legacy. It serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of embracing challenges and staying connected to one’s journey, much like the vehicles that traversed the desert sands, rooted in the determination and perseverance of their voyagers.

In the heart of the garden also lies a tribute to the man himself – a wall of yam tubers, symbolizing the roots that ground him. Derived from the translation of his name, “Yam is Home,” it serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of staying connected to one’s origins, much like the yam crop that grows from the roots.

Nelson Mandela statue

During my stay at Nelson Mandela Gardens, I stumbled upon a one-of-a-kind experience – a wine tasting event that added an unexpected layer of delight to my visit. The enchanting setting, surrounded by the vibrant colors of nature, elevated the experience from mere wine tasting to a sensory indulgence. Soft, silk-like wines danced on my palate, each sip revealing a symphony of flavors that ranged from smooth to robust.

The wine tasting was a fleeting moment, but it hinted at the broader allure of the place. The Nelson Mandela Gardens doesn’t just offer a bed for the night; it’s a holistic experience that engages all your senses. The “Wine Enclave,” where fine wines are sold, further extends this experience, allowing guests to take a piece of the magic home with them.

Aerial view of the garden

What sets this place apart, beyond its picturesque setting, is the tangible sense of possibility and heart that permeates the air. It’s not just a hotel; it’s a sanctuary that echoes with the spirit of adventure and resilience, much like the man behind its creation.

One cannot talk about Nelson Mandela Gardens without acknowledging its impressive recreational facilities. A well-equipped gym and a refreshing swimming pool beckon those seeking a balance of relaxation and fitness. Whether you’re a fitness enthusiast or simply wish to unwind, these amenities add an extra layer of appeal to this already enchanting retreat.

Aerial view of the garden

Perhaps what’s most remarkable about Nelson Mandela Gardens is its longevity. Since its establishment in 2013, the place and its rooms have been remarkably maintained, a testament to a robust maintenance culture overseen by an owner who was former CEO of Costain Nigeria. In an era where the luster of many establishments fades with time, Nelson Mandela Gardens stands tall, defying the odds and offering a consistent haven for travelers.

Meeting Dr. Newton Jibunoh, the visionary behind this oasis, was an encounter with a living legend. 

Dr. Newton Jibunoh

His passion for exploration and connection to his roots is palpable, reflected in every corner of the garden. 

In a world that often feels rushed and disconnected, Nelson Mandela Gardens is a gentle reminder for us to pause, appreciate the beauty around us, and connect with our roots. It’s a place where time seems to stand still, allowing guests to savor each moment, much like fine wine.

As I reflect on my time at Nelson Mandela Gardens, the words “Asaba Amaka” echo in my mind. This is more than a destination; it’s an experience etched in the memories of those fortunate enough to have graced its grounds. Dr. Newton Jibunoh’s vision has not only created a physical haven but a testament to the resilience and beauty of Asaba.

So, if you find yourself in Asaba, do not merely stay at Nelson Mandela Gardens; immerse yourself in the magic, savor the wine, and let the heartbeat of Asaba captivate your soul.

–Iweka, a writer and culture enthusiast, lives in Lagos


Subscribe to our Newsletter
Stay up-to-date