Traditionally, the shade beneath a tall tree is a place of reflection and rest, where people can recharge and take inspiration from their surroundings. Visitors to the home villages of former president Nelson Mandela will soon be able to do a lot more of that, thanks to a national tree-planting initiative.
As part of an ongoing partnership between Konica Minolta South Africa and Food & Trees for Africa (FTFA), Konica Minolta in Mthatha will now bring more greenery to Madiba’s birthplace at Mvezo as well as to a school in the area.
The tree-planting comes during Mandela month, 101 years after Madiba’s birth, and honours him as one of the architects of democratic South Africa, while also helping to mitigate the impact of carbon emissions.
Konica Minolta South Africa, as well as the Konica Minolta Mthatha branch, will be donating a total of 202 trees to the area – to the Nelson Mandela School of Science and Technology and the Mvezo Great Place (Mvezo Komkhulu) which also houses the Mvezo Open Air Museum. The trees will offset an estimated 74,5 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e).
The tree-planting initiative will continue ongoing improvements to specific heritage sites, both part of the Nelson Mandela Route linking significant areas in the life of South Africa’s national icon and statesman. Last year, Konica Minolta and FTFA planted 500 trees along the route. In 2017, Konica Minolta donated 198 trees at Qunu and Mvezo, and in 2016 the company donated 95 trees to Lamyeni, Alice, Qunu and Mvezo.
“Madiba’s home is part of our national heritage,” said Ritchi Smith, marketing manager for Konica Minolta South Africa. “We’re proud to be able to make it a little greener with our tree-planting project, while also helping to fight climate change. We’ve been doing this around South Africa for more than a decade, in partnership with FTFA, and Mandela month is the perfect time to return to Qunu and Mvezo.”
Reducing carbon emissions is a crucial part of managing global warming and building a sustainable economy, in line with the principles of the Kyoto Protocol. Tree-planting assists with this, as trees remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere during their growing seasons.
A total of 46 001 trees, including 4 730 bamboo and tree-equivalent spekboom plants have been planted since the start of this initiative in 2008. The planting has offset an estimated 16 974 tons of CO2e, enabling Konica Minolta to maintain carbon-neutral status, mitigating global warming and improving air quality, in line with its broader commitment to sustainable business practices.
Mr Kwezi Nkosivumile, the Principal of Mandela School of Science and Technology, expressed his appreciation for this opportunity and noted that the School Governing Body (SGB) and the Royal House of Mandela unanimously welcomed this donation; “On behalf of the school we humbly wish to extend our heartfelt gratitude to Konica Minolta (Mthatha branch) for such a wonderful donation. We feel very proud and honoured to be involved in keeping Madiba’s legacy alive. Our inspirational global icon, Tata Nelson Mandela, once said: ''Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.'' Our vision as a school is a commitment to educate the next-generation of South African leaders who are going to change the world.”
Konica Minolta South Africa’s ongoing tree donation has reached 908 beneficiary organisations, including 866 schools and 42 community centres, as well as 11 639 homes. With the programme’s focus on sustainability, 129 community educators have been trained through the tree-planting activities and are now empowered to take the initiative forward across the country.
Mr Kwezi Nkosivumile, the Principal of Nelson Mandela School of Science and Technology, Jeminah Mkhize, Trees and Carbon Programme facilitator at FTFA and a student from Nelson Mandela School of Science and Technology, working together to plant trees.
Jeminah Mkhize, Trees and Carbon Programme facilitator at FTFA, Mr Mbathane, the principal of another local school, Zwelinzima Primary, and Gary Eves, Branch Manager of Konica Minolta Mthatha, educating students at Nelson Mandela School of Science and Technology on the importance of planting trees.
Jeminah Mkhize, Trees and Carbon Programme facilitator at FTFA addressing the students at Nelson Mandela School of Science and Technology, standing next to the various trees that were planted; Bushwillow, Wild Olive and Searsia Lancea.
Jeminah Mkhize, Trees and Carbon Programme facilitator at FTFA, next to Mam Nolusapho, the mother of Chief Mandla Mandela, and Mr Mbathane, the principal of Zwelinzima Primary.
Coming together to do their part in making Mvezo greener: from left to right; Ritchi Smith, national marketing co-ordinator for Konica Minolta South Africa, Jeminah Mkhize, Trees and Carbon Programme facilitator at FTFA, Mr Kwezi Nkosivumile, the Principal of Nelson Mandela School of Science and Technology, Siphiwe from Konica Minolta Mthatha Branch, Mam Nolusapho mother of Chief Mandla Mandela, Gary Eves Branch Manager of Konica Minolta Mthatha Branch, Lusanda from Konica Minolta Mthatha Branch and Mr Mbathane, the Principal of another local school called Zwelinzima Primary.