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Joburg unveils plaque at the Mandela Championship Tree Print E-mail
18 July 2017

The white indigenous Stinkwood tree planted in 2008 by the late former President Nelson Mandela at Thokoza Park in Rockville, Soweto, to celebrate his 90th birthday and to mark Arbor Day, has grown into a beautiful, majestically tall and strong tree.

The nine-year-old tree, known as the “Nelson Mandela Champion Tree”, has since been officially declared by the Gauteng Provincial Heritage Resources Authority as a provincial heritage resource.

On Monday July 17 - on the eve of what would have been the late international icon’s 99th birthday - City of Johannesburg officials, councillors, local residents and schoolchildren gathered at the park to witness Member of the Mayoral Committee for Community Development Cllr Nonhlanhla Sifumba unveil a blue heritage plaque at the tree.

The event, organised by Johannesburg City Parks & Zoo, was also attended by officials from the Gauteng Provincial Heritage Resources Authority and the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

Cllr Sifumba said the event was significant in that it was taking place on the eve of Mandela’s birthday.

“The symbolism of Madiba planting this tree and declaring on the day that we are giving back to nature what we took from it, is significant to me. It says that not only did Tata care for the people of South Africa, but he also cared for the environment.

“The symbolism of this day tells me that one of the greatest leaders of our time realised that in order for us to leave a legacy for our children, and those that are not yet born, we need to care for our environment,” said MMC Sifumba.

She said the planting of the tree in Soweto, where many black people were forced to live in inhumane conditions because of apartheid, might not seem like a significant contribution.

“But as the tree grows over the years and bears the majestic rings that tell its age, many will talk about it, show it to future generations and tell of a man, an ordinary man who did extraordinary things,” Cllr Sifumba said.

She said human beings had a tendency to take from nature without giving back. “Now Mother Nature is retaliating through forces we can never control, like global warming and its disastrous effects on the climate and our livelihood as the human race,” she said.

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Last Updated on 18 July 2017