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Trees are being planted in Alexandra and Soweto for Nelson Mandela Day, which this year marks his 93rd birthday. Community members and local learners are helping.
LEARNERS, teachers and the community of Alexandra joined hands in planting the first of 100 trees to celebrate Nelson Mandela’s birthday, on Friday, 15 July at River Park in Alexandra.


Acting City Parks MD Geoff Cooke plants a tree for MadibaActing City Parks MD Geoffrey Cooke plants a tree for MadibaOn the day, every individual had a role to play; community members together with City Parks staff dug holes for planting; for schoolchildren it was an outdoor science lesson in which they learned about the importance of trees in combating global warming.

Wearing T-shirts bearing the words, “A green call to action, 67 minutes celebrating Mandela”, the youngsters were ready to do their bit for Madiba. The community also learned important tips to consider in preserving the environment.

City Parks will plant more trees today – Nelson Mandela Day – in Soweto and Alexandra.

The initiative was made possible through a partnership between Johannesburg City Parks and African Rainbow Minerals, which donated R300 000 to the cause.

Speaking at the ceremony, City Parks’ acting managing director, Geoffrey Cooke, said: “This is our commitment to ploughing back what has been taken from nature. It is our responsibility to ensure that we sustain the environment, so we can live in a healthy green society.”

Cooke also challenged members of the community to take ownership of their environment. “Each and every one of you has a role to play in preserving the surroundings; it will require men and women who can provide leadership in looking after Alexandra.”

Leadership must start with parents teaching their children about the environment. “Leadership is about simplicity and humility,” he said, quoting Mandela.


Celebrating Madiba's birthdayCelebrating Madiba's birthdayTaking up Cooke’s challenge, the regional director of Region E, Liziwe Mazibuko, vowed to mobilise the community to form task teams whose purpose would be to ensure that Alexandra was clean.

“This is a challenge that we need to tackle as a collective; Alexandra being one of the highly congested places will require a lot of work. First, we must start educating the people,” said Mazibuko.

Explaining his company’s involvement, African Rainbow Minerals’ executive director, Mangisi Gule, said: “We believe strongly in giving back to the community.”

He encouraged people to unite in changing the image of Alexandra. “It is up to you, the people of Alexandra, who must make sure that this cause benefits you.

“As we are planting these trees, we must not forget that we are celebrating the birthday of our icon, Nelson Mandela,” said Gule.

On the day, Cooke and Gule planted a ceremonial tree and cut a birthday cake in celebration of Madiba’s birthday.

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