Una vita in Africa – A life in Africa Rotating Header Image

May 3rd, 2009:

Open Letter

My dear brothers and sisters, boys and girls, children who in Kenya, Sudan and Zambia live in Koinonia Community homes,
During this Easter time some of you, even some friends from Italy, have mentioned that in the past they were touched by the “Parable of the Good Farmer and the Juicy Mango”, that I had said on different occasions during our Eucharistic celebrations, and have asked me to write it down. It is not my creation, I remember reading it somewhere. Let me all the same write down my version, and when I will find out who is the original author I will give him or her the due credit.

Once upon a time there was a very good and wise African chief. In his area people lived peacefully, and when there was a quarrel, he administered justice with wisdom.
In his area there was a young peasant farmer called Tutu. He worked very hard so that his wife and three children could always have good food, and in his family there was much love.
One day, as he was working in his orchard, Tutu saw that many mangoes were about to ripen, and one among them was very big, and from the color and the smell he thought that after three days it would be perfectly ripe and juicy. So, he colleted it carefully and took it home. That evening, after they had shared the meal, Tutu showed the mango to his wife and children and said: “Look at this beautiful mango, it is the best I had ever seen, and surely will be delicious to eat. I collected if for you, but then I thought that it is so nice that we can make a gift to our chief. He is a good man, and we have never been able to show him our appreciation. What do you think?” They all thought it was a suitable gift for the chief.
The following day Tutu put the mango in a small box and set out for the walk to the chief’s home that could take about four hours. After some time he met on the road a young rich trader on a beautiful horse, who was going to the market to be held in the chief’s village to sell precious cloths. When the trader saw that Tutu was holding a box with such great care, he became curious and asked what was inside it. Very happily Tutu showed his mango and said he was going to present it to the chief as a special gift. The young trader laughed so much that tears were rolling down his cheeks: “Do you really believe that the chief will care about a mango? He has people giving him very precious gift! He will think you are making fun of him, and will send you away in disgrace”.
But Tutu was not discouraged. He put the mango back into the box and went on.
When he reached the chief’s compound he was stopped by some of the chief’s attendants. He explained to them he wanted to offer his mango as a gift to the chief. The attendants shouted at him, telling him the chief had not time to spare for such small matter.
But the chief, who was in a hut nearby, heard the shouting, asked what was the reason, and then ordered to allow Tutu to see him. Tutu came in, presented the mango to the chief, and said” This is the best fruit that has ever grown in my field. Please accept it as a sign of the respect and love that my family and me have for you. You are a wise chief, you have kept peace and justice in our land, we are happy to be part of your people”.
The chief turned to his teenager son and whispered: “Tutu is not just giving us a mango, his giving his heart. Go, take the best horse we have, so that I can exchange his gift with a suitable one”.
Tutu was surprised when the chief gave him a beautiful black horse as his own gift. He did not expect the chief to give him anything. But he accepted, because he did not want to displease the chief, and set out for the trip back home.
On the way back, he found again the young rich trader, who was shocked when he saw Tutu riding a beautiful horse, and when Tutu explained him what had happened, he started to think how to get also a gift from the chief.
Tutu reached home and spent the whole evening with his family, telling them what had happened and praising the kindness and generosity of their chief.
The following morning the trader went to see the chief, riding his most magnificent horse. When he was admitted to the chief’s presence he bowed profoundly and said: “Our most gracious chief, you are so powerful and well known that I have decided to make you homage of this beautiful horse”. While he was saying so, in his heart he was thinking that if the chief has rewarded Tutu with a horse in exchange for a mango, he would give him something really valuable, maybe a very precious stone, in exchange for his horse.
The chief listened, exchanged a glance with his son, and said to the trader: “I do not know how to thank you enough for this very valuable gift, but I have an item that is very dear to my heart. It is painful for me to give it out, but I think you really deserve it” and indicated to his son to go and get it. The trader kept his eyes low, expecting to see the chief’s son to come back with something extraordinary. The son came back to the hut with Tutu’s mango and the chief handed it to him, holding it with great respect.
The trader was barely able to contain his anger, but managed to show a smile. He left and when he thought of being far from the sigh of the chief, he furiously threw away the mango and went away on foot, thinking that he had now to buy another horse, and that he would never wish to see the chief again.
The chief turned to his son and said: “That young rich man will be unhappy all of his life, because he does not know how to appreciate the value of a gift”.

We can see in this parable that the most precious gift we can give is our love. The mango is a very suitable fruit to represent it, because it has the shape of a heart. Who is the chief who deserves it? It is God, who rules us with the law of love. If we do not understand the greatness and the importance of his love, if we do not find happiness and peace in surrendering to him, we just do not deserve it. And we become unhappy, nothing will ever satisfy us.
Jesus is the Son of the Chief, and He has learned and practiced the lesson taught by His Father, putting his love and life entirely at our service.
But we can also see the parable from another angle. Many times I have also thought you are my chiefs. You allow me to enter into the kingdoms of your dreams; you trust me and share your goodness and life with me. You give me the gifts of your smile and of your happiness, and you give me the energy to walk with you.
Really, God wants us to be each other’s chiefs. He is not jealous of his position. Actually He is happy to see that His children love and serve each other, especially during difficult times. We can exclude ourselves from His love only when – like the reach young trader – we consider material possessions more important than love, service, and harmony with the people around us.
In this Easter season may you feel Jesus always close to you.
Father Kizito

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