To commemorate 99 years since the birth of Nelson Mandela, Konica Minolta South Africa (KMSA) and Food & Trees for Africa (FTFA) planted trees in the Eastern Cape, the birthplace of the former president. This entailed KMSA donating 99 trees to both Qunu and Mvezo near Mthatha in the Eastern Cape.
This initiative follows in the wake of 95 trees donated in 2016 to Lamyeni, Alice, Mvezo and Qunu in the Eastern Cape. These are the areas where Madiba spent his formative years, the areas that shaped him into the man that South Africans came to know.
Ritchi Smith, national marketing co-ordinator for Konica Minolta South Africa, said, ‘The journey made by KMSA this year was the fulfilment of a promise made to the community. A promise to return, and to keep returning, to plant trees where they are needed.’ Konica Minolta South Africa staff volunteers from the Johannesburg head office as well as Mthatha and East London branches, made the journey to Mvezo and Qunu in July this year, to assist with the tree planting.
Said Gary Eves of KMSA, ‘As the branch manager of East London and Mthatha, I feel very privileged to have been part of the memorable tree planting journey over the past two years. For generations that follow, we trust that we have planted a memory, and that the chiefs and leaders of the communities, will take our message forward and continue to grow trees. On behalf of Konica Minolta South Africa, we thank you for encouraging our company to return next year to celebrate the 100th birthday of the great Nelson Mandela.’
Working closely with local leadership, FTFA identified a total of eight beneficiaries to receive trees from KMSA. Two of the schools identified to receive trees by both Chief Nkosi Zwelivelile (Mandla) Mandela and his mother, Mam Nolusapho, were earmarked to host a tree planting event facilitated by FTFA, which included participation from the learners. Makgatho Lewanika Mandela Primary School received 40 trees and Nolusapho Early Childhood Development Centre received 10 trees. Both schools are named for Chief Mandela’s parents.
Said Chief Mandela, ‘We are immensely proud of our association with Food & Trees for Africa and Konica Minolta South Africa. Each tree we plant represents hope and our commitment to a better future. The rural landscape of villages such as Mvezo Komkhulu, Nelson Mandela’s birth place, still bear the harsh scars of our painful, unequal and under-developed past. For some children in South Africa, tree-lined avenues, lush gardens with blushing roses and a myriad of plants and trees are a common sight. Let our rural children not remain the step-children of prosperity and development. Let us bring the joy that trees have provided since time immemorial, gracefully sculpting our landscape, providing food, shelter and fresh air required for sustainably living into a new future. May these trees bring life, prosperity, strength, wisdom and growth to Mvezo and all rural communities.’
On returning to the area, both KMSA and FTFA were encouraged to see how well the trees planted in 2016, were doing. Said Emily Jones, Trees and Carbon Manager for Food & Trees for Africa, ‘Returning to areas where we have previously planted trees is incredibly important, to re-iterate training and assist the community where needed. It has been fulfilling to work with a sponsor such as Konica Minolta South Africa who enable such projects to bear fruit.’
The allocation of 198 trees to Mvezo and Qunu brings Konica Minolta’s total trees donated since 2008 to 30,191 to date.