Mandela memorial services at SANBI

13 December 2013

Nelson Mandela memorial Kirstenbosch 2On Thursday 12 December and Friday 13 December SANBI held several memorial services for the late former president Nelson Rholihlahla Mandela attended by staff at Gardens across the country. The services gave staff members, most of whom were unable to attend national and provincial memorial services, the opportunity to express in song, poetry, drama and scripture their appreciation for the global icon.

On Thursday Walter Sisulu NBG, named for the struggle stalwart and friend of Mandela, set the tone for the rest of the Gardens with a rousing commemoration of the late Father of the Nation, with staff singing and chanting in honour of Mandela. Also in attendance were SANBI Board member, Tony Frost and CEO Dr Tanya Abrahamse.

Speaker after speaker gave accounts of encounters they had with the global icon and how he influenced them and preached reconciliation.   

“South Africans should be proud for having given birth to Madiba who has inspired millions across the globe to be better people”, said the Abrahamse. 

Walter Sisulu Mandela memorial serviceThe service held at Walter Sisulu NBG ended with the planting of three trees from three different families near the Garden entrance. Garden Curator Thompson Mutshinyalo said the trees symbolise the unity that Madiba brought to a diverse and divided country. “It was an unplanned project but (the area) will be developed to have benches around and will become a major attraction in the Garden,” he said.

Services were also held on Thursday at the Pretoria, Lowveld, KwaZulu-Natal and Free State National Botanical Gardens.

In the Western Cape, the Hantam, Karoo, Harold Porter and Kirstenbosch NBGs all had a joint service at the Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden on Friday 13 December 2013.

Kirstenbosch Nelson Mandela memorial service

SANBI board member Dr Bernard Fanaroff, Carmel Mbizvo, who is the Head of Biodiversity Research and Knowledge Management and the CEO joined other staff members at the emotional event.

Speaking in Kirstenbosch, Abrahamse said SANBI was “honoured to have named a plant  after him”. While on a visit to Kirstenbosch NBG In September 1996, Mandela was presented with the yellow Strelitzia 'Mandela's Gold' named for him.

Mbizvo challenged all in attendance to start living SANBI’s values of uGREAT (ubuntu, growth, respect and tolerance, excellence, accountability and togetherness) which, with the help of value ambassadors, she pointed out were very closely aligned with those of the late statesman.

“Our challenge is to take these values and make them real. Turn words into action.”

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