After successful tree planting events in 2016 and again in 2017 it was decided to return to Qunu and Mvezo, with Idutywa being added to the itinerary, to celebrate 100 years of a great man, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, whose memory will live forever.
The KMSA team which included Gary Eves, branch manager of Mthatha branch, Lusanda Mkona and Dyomfana Yaneliseka, sales representatives at the branch as well as Ritchi Smith from head office marketing, set off early one morning in July for Zamuxolo Primary, a small rural school tucked away in the picturesque hills of Idutywa. The arrival of KMSA at the school created great excitement amongst the children – curios little faces could be seen pressed up against the glass of the hall windows, all eager to get a glance of the visitors. Zamuxolo Primary was selected together with the Adopt a School Foundation, a partner entity of the Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation, as a beneficiary to receive trees. The school fell squarely within the KMSA Mandela Route and was desperately in need of trees to shade the playground, provide windbreaks and beautify the property. After a welcome from the principal, the older children entered the room and immediately began singing and dancing – the voices and rhythm of these young people was indescribable.
On moving outside to the playground it was evident that KMSA had targeted the perfect school for a tree donation – there was not a tree in site in the entire playground and with the soaring temperatures that area experiences in summer, the 100 trees donated by KMSA were definitely going to make a difference to the school. The tree planting event created much interest as the children were told before the event began, they should listen carefully as questions would be asked afterwards and that each correct answer would be rewarded with a prize. One could almost hear a pin drop during the planting demonstration, all eyes were focused on the eco-preneur, Busi Wawa from Food & Trees for Africa. The hospitality shown by the school was heart warming – a table brimming over with a variety of delicious food and drink had been set out for lunch – all in honour of the guests from KMSA.
Day two began with a visit to Qunu Primary. This was the very first school that Nelson Mandela attended when in 1925, at the tender age of seven, he entered Grade One. It was here that he was given the name Nelson, on his first day of school by his teacher Miss Mdingane.
Once again, KMSA were welcomed by the staff and children and were thanked most sincerely for the 100 trees donated to the school. However, before going outside to begin the tree planting event, students from the school choir arrived to welcome and entertain the guests - these youngsters displayed the most incredible talent and more importantly they all seemed to so enjoy themselves while entertaining the crowd.
A further donation of an additional 100 trees was also made to Milton Mbekela Senior Secondary School which is adjacent to Qunu Primary.
Once back on the road, the last stop was a visit to the Great Place which is the home of the Mandela Royal House in Mvezo, the area in which Madiba was born.
This was the third successive year that KMSA has visited the Mandela Royal House. Chief Mandla Mandela, Madiba’s grandson is the head of the Royal House and both Mvezo and Qunu fall under the jurisdiction of the chief. Once again the warm welcome received from Mandla’s mother, Mam. Nolusapho was wonderful and the team were invited to join her as well as Mandla’s wife, Nodiyala Mandela and a group of community leaders in the communal meeting room located inside the homestead – members of the royal family as well as community members were seated in a huge rondawel and as one entered this space there was an incredible feeling of peace and tranquility. As the team walked towards Mam Nolusapho she extended her arms out wide to welcome KMSA back to the Great Place. Once every one was seated one of the elders from the community stood up and recited a prayer - this was followed by singing from those in the room and then Mam. Nolusapho stood up to formally address every one. Those visiting from KMSA were completely taken aback when Mam. Nolusapho added, “It would not be correct for me to use the word ‘welcome’ as Konica Minolta are no longer strangers, we are not welcoming them into our house for the first time, we now look upon them as part of our family”. These words meant so much to those representing KMSA – without a doubt the ‘virtual’ Konica Minolta flag flies high at the Mandela Royal Household in Mvezo. Trees planted at the Great Place in 2016 were now flourishing and in rememberance of Madiba, a further 100 fever trees were shared on the day, between the Great Place, Makgatho Lewanika Mandela Primary School, Nolusapho Pre-Primary School, Nosageni Clinic and the Nelson Mandela School of Science & Technology.
With the upcoming Konica Minolta Art Competition, it was an ideal opportunity to inform the beneficiaries about the competition – this created great interest amongst the teachers, who were eager to share it with their students.
KMSA are proud to have been contributors to the Nelson Mandela Centenary and in conclusion Gary summed it up perfectly in just one sentence : “It is the creative vision of one of our company’s most fundamental and spirited commitments … to participate, educate and conserve our unique country.”