A PLANT IS NOT JUST A PLANT

Written by Captain Mary on Friday, November 13, 2009

While at work yesterday, the landscape crew was also working. I noticed a beautiful plant, somehow it looked very familiar. I asked the boss of the crew, Richard, if the plant originated in Africa?. Richards reply was, "Yes, and there is a special place in his heart with this particular plant". My curiosity peeked, I had to know the story behind this plant.
Richard began to tell his story. First, he has a import license to harvest plants from Africa, due to the fact that he is African. Anyway, back to the story. While in Tanzania he was searching the bush in his vehicle, he came across a river coming down from the mountains. Seeing what looked like an interesting plant across the river he was determined to collect it. To get across the river he had to walk across a tree that had fallen into the river. Precariously crossing the log, which was wedged upon some rocks, he began carefully crossing. Looking down to check his footing he noticed, something that horrified him, it was the body of a young girl. Richard said that he noticed her long black hair and that she was a white girl. Richard returned to his vehicle and went to the police to report his finding. He gave them the exact location, in this remote area. Yet, the police insisted that he come along. After, Richard disapproved of returning, he was made to go with the police.
The story now very interesting, his phone rings. Richard excused himself and walked off, now my curiosity is getting the best of me. I returned back to my tasks, waiting for Richard to finish his phone call, and giving more instructions to his crew. Almost an hour later I was going crazy to find out what happens next.
Back to our conversation, Richard continues his story. Richard and the police begin to travel back to the river on dirt roads, winding and deep into the bush, they arrive at the sight, where the body of the young girl is under water, caught in the current of the river. The police begin to retrieve her remains, collecting her in garbage bags, for the river had taken its toll on her young body. The police then turn to Richard and arrest him for murder. Imagine his shock, he was just trying to do the right thing, to help a family find their missing child.
Richard was then tossed into a cell, he asked why he would show the police where the body was if he was the murderer? They didn't care, and he really couldn't argue the point, he was at the mercy of the police. No phone calls, just throw in a cell. That wasn't the worse of it, his cell mate was a man accused of murdering his entire family with a machete. Are you horrified yet?, well this man also had Leprosy, most of his face eaten away by the disease.
Richard, now afraid for his life, could not sleep, nor would he eat or even drink water. A few days passed when he noticed an Indian woman walking by his cell, through the very small window, Richard began screaming for help, the woman turned and acknowledged Richard. The woman's husband was a Barrister, she told Richard she would help. After 4 or 5 days he was finally released from his horrible cell. The police then changed their story of why he was in jail, and said he was there as a material witness. Richard went to court and testified at the trail. The results of the trail left a family with closure, but also left them with the horrible story of their daughters demise. This young 12 year old girl, a daughter of farmers, was abducted, taken to the mountain tops, tortured, and molested repeatedly, murdered and tossed into the river, where her final resting spot was where a man was collecting plants. Richard found out later that just a few feet down the river was another 30 bodies.
This experience was not the end of this trip, he then ran into a young man who was missing his ears. Richards curiosity led him to ask the man what had happened to his ears? The young mans reply was another shocking story.
The young man said that when he was six years old his village was attacked, his family and community was being slaughtered. What they did after the slaughter was remove the ears of the victims and throw them in piles. This young man, feared that if he ran he would be shot in the back, so he remained on the ground pretending to be dead. His ears were then removed and his young body throw on to the pile with the rest of the people in his village. Although he survived this horrible ordeal, I can't pretend to imagine the strength it took this six year old not to scream or move while all of this was happening to him.
The story now completed, Richard again looks at the plant that was a reminder of his adventure. He said, "this plant is the offspring of the original plant collected in the African bush, and a reminder of the time he spent in jail with a Leper.
I imagine that I will look at landscaping a bit different, perhaps each plant that is imported to grace our gardens has a story similar to this one. Embrace the beauty around us, for it too has a story to tell.
RICHARD ADDED..........
DID NOT FINISH MY STORY. NOT SURE WHERE I LEFT OFF.. THE PLANT THAT I WAS SEEKING FOR KEW BOTANICAL GDNS WAS ENCEHPALARTOS GRATUS.. NOW ON THE CITES NO 1 LIST. NO LONGER ABLE TO COLLECT IN THE WILD.
QUITE RARE IN COLLECTIONS HERE IN THE USA AND SELLS FOR QUITE HIGH PRICES.. THE NATIVE POPULATION IN MOST COUNTRIES THAT I HAVE COLLECTED CYCADS IN HAVE LITTLE OR NO REGARD FOR THESE PLANTS AND KILL THEM INDISCRIMINATLY.. ONE CAN BE JAILED HERE IN THE USA FOR ABUSING THESE PLANTS THAT THE CITES REGULATIONS ARE TRYING TO PROTECT.. PITY NO ONE IN THE COUNTRIES OF ORIGIN CARE A DAMM..
ANYWAY THE ELDERLY PARENTS OF THIS LITTLE GIRL THROUGH AN INTERPRETER
THANKED ME FOR GIVING THEM CLOSURE.
NOW WHENEVER I SEE AN ENCEPHALARTOS GRATUS I ALWAYS THINK
OF THOSE TWO HORRIFIC DAYS IN A JAIL CELL WITH A MADMAN WHO SAT WITH ARMS AROUND HIS LEGS ROCKING TOO AND FRO AND NEVER TAKING HIS ONE REMAINING EYE OFF ME.. STILL GIVES ME THE SHIVERS.

November 23, 2009 9:09 AM

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  1. 2 comments: Responses to “ A PLANT IS NOT JUST A PLANT ”

  2. By Mini on November 13, 2009 at 9:24 AM

    I see that you left all this out when you told me about the tree!!! Ahhhaaa! That is crazy! Did they ever catch the murderer????

  3. By Anonymous on November 23, 2009 at 9:09 AM

    DID NOT FINISH MY STORY. NOT SURE WHERE I LEFT OFF.. THE PLANT THAT I WAS SEEKING FOR KEW BOTANICAL GDNS WAS ENCEHPALARTOS GRATUS.. NOW ON THE CITES NO 1 LIST. NO LONGER ABLE TO COLLECT IN THE WILD.
    QUITE RARE IN COLLECTIONS HERE IN THE USA AND SELLS FOR QUITE HIGH PRICES.. THE NATIVE POPULATION IN MOST COUNTRIES THAT I HAVE COLLECTED CYCADS IN HAVE LITTLE OR NO REGARD FOR THESE PLANTS AND KILL THEM INDISCRIMINATLY.. ONE CAN BE JAILED HERE IN THE USA FOR ABUSING THESE PLANTS THAT THE CITES REGULATIONS ARE TRYING TO PROTECT.. PITY NO ONE IN THE COUNTRIES OF ORIGIN CARE A DAMM..
    ANYWAY THE ELDERLY PARENTS OF THIS LITTLE GIRL THROUGH AN INTERPRETER
    THANKED ME FOR GIVING THEM CLOSURE.
    NOW WHENEVER I SEE AN ENCEPHALARTOS GRATUS I ALWAYS THINK
    OF THOSE TWO HORRIFIC DAYS IN A JAIL CELL WITH A MADMAN WHO SAT WITH ARMS AROUND HIS LEGS ROCKING TOO AND FRO AND NEVER TAKING HIS ONE REMAINING EYE OFF ME.. STILL GIVES ME THE SHIVERS.