Tag Archives: nature

Kipoo… in the Garden

Kipoo was dosing off to sleep.  He felt he deserves the rest. It had been a long and tiring season last year with all the visitors trudging all over him to take one last look at his receding hairline.  Yes, his receding hairline.  He never thought it would ever come to this. He was always so proud of his wonderful snow white crown.  But now it was slowly fading away… along with all the glory of his yesterdays.  No more would he be able to stand proudly among the rest of his peers as the tallest, most handsome one, with that awe inspiring crown of white on his head.

He has been privy to conversations about his receding hairline.  Apparently the only solution is some growth activator called tree.  It is said that this growth activator was what had kept that crown on his head for so long.  Kipoo just could not understand it all.  How come that growth activator was not there anymore? He is sure he did nothing to remove it.  What had his people been doing with it?

Then he thought…. it must be Mawenzi’s fault.  Mawenzi must have become jealous of him after that incident so many years ago.  Yes, maybe Mawenzi was at fault.  After all, that incident was related to fire, and fire requires wood, … and does wood not come from tree?

As Kipoo lay on his bed, he began to recall the events that culminated in that incident, way back when… he was not so young, but certainly younger than he is now… and boy was he handsome then.

It was a time when the people in his territory were so much fewer.  As the chief, he knew his people, and he had been able ensure they took care of their environment.  Things have changed a lot since then.

Anyway, at that time he had a friend called Mawenzi.  Mawenzi was just as handsome, and just as tall.  Mawenzi was the chief of the territory next to Kipoo’s.  They were good friends, but Mawenzi had a little problem.  Kipoo could never understand why Mawenzi was always coming to him for embers of coal from his fire.  He thought it was strange, but then, this was his friend, so he let it be for some time.

Now, Kipoo has always been a patient one,  known for calmly and silently watching his surroundings and letting things be.  But after many years of this behavior, Kipoo just had to ask Mawenzi: “My friend, why is it that you always come to get embers from my fire to start your own fire?  Why is it that you cannot start your fire from your own embers?”

Mawenzi was startled, and looked down with embarrassment. He never thought Kipoo would ever ask him this question.  As Mawenzi looked down, Kipoo looked at him with concern.  “Mawenzi,”, he said, “what is it that you cannot tell me?  You make me worried when you look down like that.  What is the matter?”

Mawenzi sighed.  He took a deep breath, and sighed again.  He stood up and said, “My friend Kipoo, if you do not want to give me any more embers from your fire, just tell me.  All I want is just a little coal to take with me to my home so that I can cook for myself. Why is that becoming a problem for you today?”

Kipoo did not like this response.  He felt that Mawenzi was not being honest with him, and Kipoo was beginning to get angry.  A simple explanation would do, but instead Mawenzi was trying to make him feel guilty about not giving him something that did not belong to him.  He pushed Mawenzi harder for an answer but Mawenzi would not tell him.

Kipoo sat still and thought, “If I do not give in to him, we will lose our friendship.”  So, he decided to give Mawenzi the embers of coal, and then find out the truth another way.

When Mawenzi had gone, Kipoo followed him quietly to see what he would do with the embers and what it was that Mawenzi was hiding from him.  When Mawenzi got home, Kipoo hid, and watched Mawenzi start his fire and cook his meal. As Mawenzi cooked, Kipo became hungry.  He should also have been cooking his own meal, but was now here watching Mawenzi cook.  The food Mawenzi was cooking was smelling really good, and Kipo almost came out of his hiding place to invite himself to Mawenzi’s meal. Surely Mawenzi would be happy to see him?

But he stopped himself. He still had not accomplished his mission, and today he had decided he was going to get to the bottom of the embers story. As Mawenzi ate his food, Kipoo licked his lips… hungry.  Boy was Mawenzi enjoying that meal!

When Mawenzi finished his meal, Kipoo got up to return home.  Kipo felt that this mission had proved to be a waste of time. But… suddenly, Mawenzi stood up and facing the fire, urinated all over it! He was putting out the fire completely!

Kipoo was livid!  “What?!”, he thought, “Is this what Mawenzi has been doing all these years?! Putting out his fire and then coming to beg me for embers from my fire?! Surely Mawenzi knew better than that!”

This upset Kipoo too much. A hungry man is an angry man they say, and without thinking, Kipoo got out of his hiding place and confronted Mawenzi.  Kipoo was angry, and Mawenzi was angrier still.  Mawenzi could not imagine that his long time friend had the audacity to sneak up on him and peep into his home like a thief.  There was an altercation, and then a fight.

Kipoo was too angry to remember that this was his friend, and eventually he picked up a big stick and smashed Mawenzi’s head with it.  Mawenzi’s head was shattered.  Gone was that wonderful crown of white on Mawenzi’s head.  Kipoo stepped back, waiting for Mawenzi to come back at him, but, wounded, Mawenzi could not fight any more.

Kipoo left Mawenzi’s home triumphant, he had won the fight, but he had also lost a friend.


Now, many years later, Kipoo’s hairline was receding, and soon he would end up almost as short and ragged as Mawenzi.  How would he, proud Kipoo, stand up among his peers again?

He turned on his side and thought: “If only, if only someone would bring back enough of that growth activator called tree… if only…”

As Kipoo fell asleep, he prayed that God would bring more growth activators so that the crown on his head would grow back again.  He would be ever so thankful. “Maybe God will guide those people who are visiting me to see my receding hairline to do something… “, he thought, “maybe they will bring more growth activators to him… maybe… just maybe…”

Come… Walk with me in the Garden.


Copyright © 2014, Ophelia Swai. All Rights Reserved.


Kipoo is the local pronunciation for Kibo Peak of Mt Kilimanjaro.  Mawenzi is the second tallest peak on Mt Kilimanjaro.  The incident between Kipoo and Mawenzi is an adaptation of a folk tale of the Chagga people who traditionally live on and around Mt Kilimanjaro.

Free like a bird … in the Garden

‘ … then I’ll be free as a bird!’, we always say when we are about to go on leave … for those of us lucky enough to have a job.  We envision a wonderful holiday free of all work-related encumbrances and imagine it will be like heaven on earth when we go on leave.

But how free are we really? … are we ever?

The Von der Decken’s hornbill had made a habit of ts beak against my living room window every morning, startling me even when prepared for the bang.  It was not encumbered by anything and simply flew round the house stopping at the living room window, perhaps searching for food… but in any case making sure I was aware of the time … it was morning!

‘Come on! Wake up!’, it seemed to say, and sure enough even though I wanted to stay asleep, I couldn’t… it was morning.

Free as a bird ... in the Garden

Free as a bird … in the Garden

Free as a bird… The hornbill flew to wherever it wanted to, slept practically wherever it wanted to, found food wherever it could find it, and even though it had to watch out for prey, it was mostly in cases where it needed to protect its young ones who could still not fly away from danger.

So … are we ever really free?   Can we go where we want, when we want and get whatever food wherever and be happy?  Or have we tied ourselves down to certain things that we must do by a certain date … certain things we must have or we cannot be happy… certain people we must be hanging out with, or we are not ‘in the right crowd’ or ‘with it’?

No… we are not really free… we only free ourselves of one thing at a time, for a little while

… unless we have learned how to be truly free in the light of God.

Yes, in God’s light it is possible to be truly free… for when we are free of human-defined needs, wants and desires, we become truly free to be happy no matter what life brings… then, it does not matter whether we have the latest gadget unless we need it for the fulfillment of God’s will… it does not matter whether we are in touch with the name and content of the latest movie or have even watched it because what people around us say about our knowledge or lack of thereof is irrelevant… it does not matter whether we have that extra special ice-cream because if we do not have ice-cream of any kind in fact, that is just fine with us as well.

When we are free in the light of God, whatever we find to eat is ok… we are thankful for it.  In the light of God, whatever we have, little or much, cheap or dear, we are thankful for it… in the light of God, what we do with what we have, no matter how little or how much, is more important than getting more than what we have… and when we concentrate on what we do with what we have in the light of God, He provides for us to be able to do that which He Himself has ordained.

It is beautiful to be free in God’s light… and it take a long journey to get there…

I am walking on my way to be free in God’s light in the Garden … will you join me?

Come … walk with me in the Garden.

Copyright © 2012, Ophelia Swai. All Rights Reserved.

Enough … in the Garden

So, how many times have you ever stopped and said:  “Enough… this is just enough for me.  I do not need or want any more than this.  My heart is satisfied with what I have and have enjoyed today… it is enough.”

The Zebra and wildebeest were going about their eating, playing, resting, walking, courting in peace.   The humans were going about their running, preparing, helping, serving, organizing, transporting, looking, eating in peace … each in his or her own little space, right next to each other in the Garden.  Once again, I acknowledged that this was a truly wonderful place to be… and only God could have created it as it is.  Even with man’s perceived effort in building his niche in the garden, only God could have made it so that man and beast could live so closely in peace.  Only God could have planted the idea in man’s head, and given him the heart, resources, opportunity and ability to do this.


Today I am writing and praying thankful.  I have many blessings … and still desire many things… but I also recognize that what I have today… is enough.  A visit to the little corner of the Garden I used to live in reminded me of God’s beautiful creation in its most natural fullness … a truly great blessing.  So I say, “It is enough”.  

As I say this I begin to realize that each and every day, what God gives me is enough.  Even though I do not finish what I want to do… even though I do not receive what I expect to receive… even though there are so many things to do to get everything its right place in my view of life, even though there are many challenges to overcome whether real or perceived, I know that today, and each and every day, just as it is … is enough… in God’s light … on God’s path … in obedience to Him that is the creator of all things.

… and as I look at this life in that little corner of the Garden … in my current little corner of the Garden… experience it, remember it, and recognize God’s presence in it, I say to God: “thank You… it is enough, it is enough just as it is.  Amen”


Come … walk with me in the Garden.

Copyright © 2012, Ophelia Swai. All Rights Reserved.

Like an Ostrich … in the Garden

It was another busy day, and I was on my way to a campsite where I had to restore communications in a hurry.  The way to the campsite was filled with wildlife as usual, but one member of the bird species was particularly fascinating as always.  As I drove along the winding dirt road, I saw an Ostrich about 200m ahead of me to my right.  

Driving onward at a dutiful 40km per hour (yes….40…), the road wound towards the Ostrich briefly and then away.  I was nowhere near where the Ostrich was, and would not in any way get anywhere near it. But only I knew that.  Only I, had the knowledge and vision to see that the road would turn away from the Ostrich completely and we would never meet.

But to the Ostrich, the vehicle signified a source of danger that was greater than it could understand … so it ran.  It ran faster than life itself straight towards the vehicle but at an angle such that it would have crossed the road ahead of me … had I been stationery … and would hopefully get away to safety… even though it was already safe.

Running like an Ostrich ... in the Garden

Running like an Ostrich … in the Garden

However, I was not stationery and try as it might, the Ostrich was never going to get ahead of the vehicle if I kept driving since the road was winding away from the Ostrich as well.  I stopped, thinking how foolish this bird was to think that the best way to overcome a challenge was to cut across it’s path at top speed without understanding that challenge in the least bit.

Yet, how many times do we do that very same thing in our lives?

“Eeek! Not me!”, You might be thinking.

Hmmm… how about that conflict with the one(s) we love that we try to overcome by getting the upper hand in the conflict… instead of stopping to understand the source of the problem and then addressing it calmly… and end up exacerbating the problem… or even creating one where there was none…

…and that competitor whom we try to beat by reducing our prices without first understanding the real reason why our customers are moving to the competitor instead of staying with us…

… and that teenager or staff member we reprimand without first understanding what drove them to make the mistake in the first place…maybe it was not even a mistake, but the right thing to do under the circumstances…. maybe? Maybe there was no problem after all?

Hmmm… maybe a little prayer to God will help… to ask that He open our eyes to see the road more clearly, and to grant us His wisdom and guidance to address the challenges we face correctly.

Yes, I am sure it is better to walk with God in the Garden… than to run like an Ostrich every time I hear something come along that looks like a problem… straight into the… or a … problem.

Do pray with me for God’s wisdom, and …

Come … walk with me in the Garden.

Copyright © 2012. Ophelia Swai.  All Rights Reserved.

What a wonderful morning to remember … Come … walk with me in the Garden

Ophelia Swai's Blog

I wake up every morning, 6 days a week, rushing through my paces.  I have many things to do before it is time for me to leave the house and get to my office.  It is always such a battle, because, I usually have found it hard to wake up on time in the first place.

But this morning I had woken up on time.  It was a morning for my 15 minute workout and I had made it on time… that is, until I happened to look at the window and see a deep red seeping through the curtain. I knew this meant a beautiful sunrise.  I was smiling already.  The workout could wait a few minutes.  I would just take a few clips and then proceed.

I was right.  The sunrise was beautiful and reminded me of the days I when I woke up every morning in time…

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Touching the Garden

I have been writing about the Garden for some months now, and it has been fun.  It’s been great to hear the comments of those who read my blog, both those who stumble upon it and those who I inform about it. Yet, I find this is still not enough.  I have told stories about my life in the garden… so what?  Is the garden only about stories?  The stories are nice, yes, but what about the rest?  What about the lessons and the challenges?

I seek to give joy, through the things I see, and the things I do and experience.  So I write the blog, hoping that it will warm up someone’s heart and make them happy and free, even if only for a moment while they read about the heaven upon the earth.  But now I feel there must be more. There must be something I can give that will bring even more of the joy and peace that comes from the garden.

Sunset through the trees in the Garden

So today is my first foray into the world of the unknown for me… the world of taking experiences and life and extracting lessons from it.  Of course my lesson will be about the garden itself.  This after all is what all of this was meant to be.. a story about a journey in the garden….and so my story begins…

Just last week I was walking with a colleague of mine from our offices to the mess about 2-300m away through the bush.  As we walked, gingerly stepping through the narrow path in the grass, keeping our eyes and ears open as one is wont to do when walking in not so safe territory, he suddenly exclaimed how it was so amazing that with over 600 people living in an area that is chock full of all types of snakes, no one had been seriously injured by a snake in over 5 years.  “How can that be?” he said.

I was, as usual, quick to share my knowledge of snakes, hoping that thus an explanation would be found.  Snakes, I am told tend to know when another animal, human and all, is approaching.  They are naturally shy of human beings and will move away as fast as they can when they determine you are approaching.  So, chances of meeting one are not very high, even in the bush that is full of them.  The only snake I know that breaks this rule and also lives in this garden is the black mamba… the one that with one bite can send you to the grave within 5 minutes, if something (and the right thing too) is not done about it before then.

As I explained this, he had a further thing to say: “It is interesting how much effort we take to understand other creatures and how best to live with them, yet how little effort we take to understand one another as human beings and how best to live with one another.”  That stopped me in my tracks.

Yes, we have psychologists, psychiatrists, medical doctors of all specialties, priests, pastors, kadhis and all other spiritual leaders and healers… life coaches and fitness instructors, who all take trouble to understand the human body, mind, spirit and being and help those who seek their help.  Yet on a day to day basis, how much pain and hurt do we have to live that is caused by one another?  Why is so much of the world in turmoil?  Why are the Jews fighting the Palestinians and vice versa?  Why did the Kikuyu fight the Luo and vice versa? Why is it so hard for us to understand one another’s differences and accept one another as we are? Why do men and women not understand each other?

These are all topics discussed every day all over this earth.  If we can accept that the black mamba can live among us and it is in fact better to have them not be extinct because they have a role to play in nature, why then should we think that any other person that is different has no role to play in society… or nature?  I suppose, one could argue that it is all about resources… that resources are scarce and so we fight to live. Maybe, and maybe not.  In many cases, I think, it is just simple greed.

So what does this have to do with the garden?  Plenty!  To be in the garden is a true blessing.  A blessing I believe, that is straight from God himself.  A blessing to show his mercy and love, and bring us closer to Him as we live a life that can only be compared to what we read about in the Book of Genesis, before Adam and Eve sinned.

Yet, having come from the same world that everyone lives in, what do we bring with us to the garden?  Do we bring with us all our little ills, our diminished wellness in spirit, mind and body?  Do we bring with us our prejudices, selfishness and greed?  Or do we rejoice in our blessing and seek to bring forth to one another only love, hope and charity?  Yes, even as we seek to heal of all our ills?

It is a challenging question and one that ought to be asked of ourselves each and every day.  Through the love of God, we can overcome all these ills, and through letting the balm of the garden work its magic in us, we can truly live a life of love, hope and charity.  For I can tell you with utmost certainty, every time there is any pain in this garden, that I have seen, it is due to one person’s action against, or lack of action for, another.  With the same utmost certainty, I can also tell you that every time there is joy or happiness in this garden, that I have seen, it is due to one person’s act of sharing love, hope and/or charity with another.

I have another question:  Could the garden be where you live?

As you ponder the answer to this question, let me demonstrate how love, charity, hope, and nature’s role can be demonstrated in just one event.

Last year, sometime, I had taken the option of driving to lunch instead of walking through the bush.  The grass was too tall by then I think, and I was wary of walking through it since it was probably taller than I am.  When the grass gets this tall your worry is no longer just the snakes, but the buffalo or lion or leopard that could be camouflaged within.  I parked under the shade of a tree less than 50m from the building. On my return, 2 of my Caucasian colleagues (I mention this to underline a difference that this world tends to give a lot of consideration to – race) who are a couple, were walking ahead of me towards the same cluster of trees where they had parked their own vehicle.

Their vehicle was perhaps 4 meters away from mine with the cluster of trees between them.  As they approached their vehicle and I mine, I noticed that there was now a long black stick, about a meter long,  right next to my door on the driver’s side.  I knew it had not been there before, because it was right where I would have stepped on getting off the car.

When it moved, I gasped!  This was no stick!  It was a black snake! Snakes freak me out and I stood still, holding my hand to my chest in shock.  If I had not looked, I would have walked right on top of it…or so I thought in horror.  I was still some 6 meters away, so I had seen it in time.  My colleagues asked what had frightened me and I explained that there was a snake at my vehicle.  They stopped to look, but by the time I turned from talking to them to look at the snake, I could just see its tail disappearing as it went into the vehicle from beneath!

Now, I was truly cooked.  As the thoughts rushed through my head wondering what I was going to do about it, the gentleman walked to my vehicle to see, but even after peeping in through the windows he could not see it.  He still had not seen it, and was not sure it was real.  He asked for my vehicle keys so that he could open and see better inside.  I could not dare go any closer to the vehicle, but his wife kindly walked towards me, collected the key, took it to her husband, then walked back to where I was. She was giving me the support I much needed, while at the same time allowing her husband to take the heat for me and find and remove what could be a very poisonous snake.

As he began to open up the vehicle, it became too much for me.  I could only think that if he disturbed it, there was no telling which way it would take off to, and that could end up being exactly where I was.  I opted to risk the tall grass.  At least there, I was not sure whether there was anything or not.  At my vehicle, there was certainty of there being something dangerous.  The lady opted to stay and I left and rushed to the office.

As I approached the office building, I passed another Caucasian officer running out of his office with a long stick and watched him get into his vehicle and take off at high speed.  An hour later, I received a call from the couple that had come to my rescue.  Apparently when I left, the gentleman had decided to open up the hood of the vehicle since the snake could not be seen anywhere inside the vehicle.

With both his hands holding up the hood, he peeped and peeped inside the vehicle engine compartment and still could not see anything… until he turned to look at the battery right next to him.  There was the black spitting cobra with its head lifted and pointed straight at him!  As he put it, with a strong British accent: “… I must have given the cobra a great big headache…”, because he had let go of that hood so fast, the snake had no time to strike him.  He jumped back in shock, and that is when he called the wildlife officer who arrived at top speed to try and remove it… the same officer I had seen running out of his office and wondered where he was going to at such great speed.  He did not succeed, since the snake wrapped itself in a section of the engine that he could not easily reach with his stick.

The snake eventually went away… after 2 days, during which time I experienced much heckling in jest from colleagues as to why I was ignoring my guest, and why I was not inviting him home… since he is nocturnal and would crawl out in the night anyway… yeah right!

The moral of the story?  The people who came to my rescue and did the best they could, gave of themselves, and essentially risked their lives for me, without caring about our differences.  That is how the garden should be.  I will remain ever grateful to them for sharing their love and charity with me.  Yet above all this, I will remain ever grateful to God, for showing me the snake in time, showing me where it had gone to in time, giving me colleagues who are so willing to give, and keeping me safe and well in his beautiful garden.

And so I ask you again… Do you live in the garden?

Come… walk with me in the garden.

Copyright (c) 2009-2010. Ophelia Swai. All Rights Reserved

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