By Ntombi Ntanzi
In the centenary year of Nelson Mandela’s birth, the launch of the ‘Nelson Mandela Rose’ – an Orange Vermillion was unveiled, at the Nelson Mandela Foundation on Thursday, 8th February 2018.
The auditorium was abuzz with an audience, young and old, all races, Dignitaries such as the Archbishop Desmond Tutu and his wife Mrs Leah Tutu, Premier of Gauteng David Makhura and representing the Mandela family Ms Ndileka Mandela were there to witness this prestigious reveal.
In opening the ceremony, Chief Executive Officer of the Foundation Mr Sello Hatang said; “This project began in the year 2000 when we discussed it with Madiba along with Keith Kirsten for the first time and we’ve since never given up and now we are enjoying the fruits of our labour.”
The Nelson Mandela rose stood center in the room as the audience marvelled on its bright orange vermillion colour whilst CEO of Horticulture International, Mr Keith Kirsten spoke wondrously of it:
“We believe that this rose represents the vibrancy, the stature, the humility and love of Madiba. We are delighted that this rose is chosen to be part of the centenary. I am honoured and humbled to be a big part of the ceremony. The Nelson Mandela Rose is not just a big bud but a floribunda, with its orange vermillion colour it’s a handsome and a very tall grower and floriferous – producing many flowers”.
“I urge every person to buy and plant it in their gardens, verges, schools, traffic island throughout the country as the proceeds from the sale of this rose will be for the sole benefit of the NMF”, adds Mr Kirsten.
A continuous emphasis that the Nelson Mandela Rose is a symbolic reminder to South Africans to strive towards a values-based society. Values of love and resilience that beautifully link between the Nelson Mandela rose and Nelson Mandela’s life and times.
The launch of the Mandela Rose further strengthens the centenary celebrations, as it represents the focal point of the Foundation’s strategy to get South Africa and the world to remember not just the personality of Nelson Mandela, but also what he stood for.
Gauteng Premier, Mr David Makhura spoke wholeheartedly adding; “what a great way to begin the Mandela centenary by launching the Mandela rose, which represents the man in a very deep sense because roses are about love and Nelson Mandela is about love; love of humanity”.
In his conclusion he added; “there is no doubt that our country today stands on great uncertainties and anxiety. But we start the celebration of Nelson Mandela’s centenary with a renewed hope that South Africa has reached a moment where we need to return to the path that was derailed. The path of Nelson Mandela”.
The day’s proceedings ended with a musically moving performance by choristers Imilonji kaNtu and musician Sibongile Khumalo. Songs which saw the Archbishop Desmond Tutu and his wife Mrs Leah Tutu stand and dance leaving the audience in awe and a standing ovation followed through.
“Let a new earth rise. Let another world be born. Let a bloody peace be written in the sky. Let a second generation full of courage issue forth; let a people[rose] loving freedom come to growth. Let a beauty full of healing and a strength of final clenching be the pulsing in our spirits and our blood….”, concluded Author and Poet, Mr Mandla Langa as he recited the poem – For My People by Margaret Walker.