Unit 5 Nelson Mandela—a modern hero
Just as one takes pride in important tasks outside prison,one can find the same pride in doing small things inside prison.
Almost from the beginning of my sentence on Robben Island,I asked the authorities for permission to start a garden in the courtyard.For years,they refused without offering a reason.But eventually they gave in,and we were able to cut out a small garden on a narrow patch of earth against the far wall.
The soil in the courtyard was dry and rocky.The courtyard had been built over a garbage dump,and in order to start my garden, I had to remove a great many rocks to allow the plants’ room to grow.At that time,some of my comrades joked that I was a miner at heart,for I spent my days in a wasteland and my free time digging in the courtyard.
The authorities supplied me with seeds.At first I planted tomatoes and onions—plants that did not require rich earth or constant care.The early harvests were poor,but they soon improved.The authorities did not regret giving permission,for I often provided the guards with some of my best tomatoes and onions.