In one of the first events in the year-long celebration of the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth, a rose named after him was launched in Houghton on 8 February, City Buzz reports.
Former South African and first democratic president, Nelson Mandela, passed away on 5 December 2013 and would have turned 100 on 18 July 2018.
The Nelson Mandela rose was released to launch the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s year-long centenary programme, just days ahead of Valentine’s Day on 14 February.
Foundation’s Chief Executive, Sello Hatang, said the Nelson Mandela 100 programme centres on the values embodied by Mandela, of resilience, service and care.
The values of service and care appeared to be diminishing in contemporary South Africa, but he hoped the Mandela rose would serve as a reminder ‘that we are because of others’.
Gauteng Premier David Makhura told the gathering that there was no better way to honour Mandela’s legacy than to return to the path he chose for South Africa, one of democracy, good governance, the continued battle against racism and poverty and public service.
“While the country stands on the precipice of great uncertainty and anxiety, Mandela’s centenary year is starting with renewed hope that there will be a return to ‘the path of Nelson Mandela’ which had been derailed in recent years,” said Makhura.
“If roses are about love, public service is about service to the people. We in government should be accountable; public service is about the love of our people, not about serving ourselves but about serving the people of South Africa.”
Horticulturist Keith Kirsten, who led the rose’s development, said the idea for the plant came to him in 2000, while on a flight to New York when he happened to be sitting next to Achmat Dangor, the then CEO of the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
“The disease-resilient rose is a tall, orange-vermillion, prolific floribunda, which grows to more than a metre in good conditions and is suitable for any sunny position. I’d like to see us plant lots.”
According to the horticulturist, the rose represents Mandela’s vibrancy, stature and love.
Among the dignitaries who attended the launch was Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, his wife Leah Tutu, South African singer Sibongile Khumalo, author Mandla Langa, anti-apartheid activist Gertrude Shope and businesswoman Wendy Luhabe.