On the 8th of February 2018 the Nelson Mandela Foundation together with Keith Kirsten launched the Mandela Rose, developed in honour of our late president. It was a moving day at the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, where struggle stalwarts, friends and family packed into the auditorium to reflect on Tata Madiba’s legacy.
Ntate Desmond Tutu danced to Imilonji kantu sang by the choir in Madiba’s honour. Sello Hatang, CEO of the Nelson Mandela Foundation reflected on Mandela’s values of service, resilience and love, and how they were represented in the rose. Premier David Makura reflected on the nature of being elected into office, “it is about service to the people” above anything else.
Finally Tanya Visser, representing the South African Nurseries Association, described the “floriferous” rose, the end result of 18 years of development. Visser talked about how she hoped to see these roses growing in schools, on verges, in home gardens and even in traffic islands in the middle of the road. Tata’s love for gardening is represented in this rose, he was an avid gardener himself. We are reminded of his belief that through gardening you can nurture nature.
How the rose came to be:
Keith Kirsten, speaking at the launch of the rose, spoke of how he met Tata Mandela at a Food & Trees for Africa tree planting in Alexandra in the 1990s. This sparked a relationship grounded in gardening, with Kirsten assisting with the development of Madiba’s garden at his home in Houghton. Shortly thereafter, in 2000, Kirsten started thinking of developing a rose named after Tata, and received the go ahead from the Nelson Mandela Foundation. After 18 years the rose is finally ready to be sold to the public, just in time for the centenary of Madiba’s birth. The rose will be available for purchase from May 2018, proceeds of which will go solely to the Nelson Mandela Foundation.