Planting the Seeds of Hope and Change on Robben Island

| 18 September 2019

CAPE TOWN, 18 September, 2019 – Konica Minolta South Africa, NPO Food & Trees for Africa and the Robben Island Museum hosted a unique tree-planting ceremony on Robben Island, bringing sustainable shade and greenery to the place where Nelson Mandela and others sowed the seeds of hope and change in South Africa.

The event saw guests and media ferried to the island, where a total of 101 trees donated by  Konica Minolta South Africa were planted in celebration of what would have been 101 years since Madiba’s birth, and to coincide with this September’s Arbor Month.

The tree planting is part of an established partnership between Konica Minolta South Africa, a division of Bidvest Office (Pty) Ltd, and NPO Food & Trees for Africa, which has seen the company donating a total of 46 001 trees since 2008, offsetting an estimated 16 974 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e).

“This tree planting initiative supports our long-term plan to rehabilitate vegetation on the island to be sustainable, by clearing invasive aliens and planting indigenous trees,” said Morongoa Ramaboa, spokesperson for the Robben Island Museum (RIM).

“Over the past 300 years, Robben Island’s landscape has been extensively modified as exotic shrubs and trees have been introduced,” she said. “We aim to plant more than 10 000 indigenous trees over the next five years, creating a sustainable habitat that can also be home to seabirds, especially endangered African penguins and other species that form part of the island’s landscape.”


Konica Minolta South Africa’s other tree-planting projects have taken place predominantly at primary schools across the country and on specific special occasions such as Mandela Month.

“We’re proud to contribute to South Africa’s natural and historical heritage,” said Konica Minolta South Africa’s CEO, Marc Pillay. “Our partnership with Food & Trees for Africa has been going for 11 years, and has enriched community spaces while helping to offset carbon emissions and better the environment.  We’re committed to returning to Robben Island to continue this work in the future, facilitated by our partner Food & Trees for Africa.”

“The Robben Island tree-planting continues our initiative of greening schools and historical landmarks,” said Laetitia Coetzer, Konica Minolta South Africa HR & development officer. “For three years, we have planted trees along the Mandela Route, at Madiba’s birthplace in Mvezo and at other historical landmarks. This Arbor Month, we’re expanding this focus to Robben Island. We are thrilled to have built this relationship with the Robben Island Museum, and we look forward to growing it further in the future.”

Sipho Msomi, ex-political prisoner and Robben Island prison tour guide, in Madiba’s cell


Dr Pascall (Taruving) Taruvinga Chief Heritage Officer for Robben Island Museum, Marc Pillay, CEO, Konica Minolta South Africa, Chris Wild, Director Food & Trees for Africa and Jeminah Mkhize, Senior Facilitator for FTFA, joining forces to plant seeds for hope and change


Marc Pillay, CEO, Konica Minolta South Africa assisting Chris Wild, Director Food & Trees for Africa with the planting of 1 of the 101 trees


Mpho Mahanyele, Board Chairman Food & Trees for Africa digging a space in the ground for Marc Pillay, CEO, Konica Minolta South Africa to plant a tree


Dr Pascall Taruvinga Chief Heritage Officer for Robben Island Museum, preparing to plant a tree on Robben Island in front of excited onlookers


Excited participants dedicated to bringing sustainable shade and greenery to Robben Island