give back to nature call by madiba on arbor day

Zinhle Mapumulo

Zinhle Mapumulo

Former president Nelson Mandela and his wife Graca Machel cut his birthday cake in Soweto before encouraging the people to plant trees.

"It is time that we give back to nature more than we take from it. We need trees to live and I believe this is the time to start planting them," he said.

Mandela was speaking at Thokoza Park in Soweto yesterday when national Arbor Day was celebrated. The event was hosted as part of creating awareness about the Soweto greening project.

Prema Naidoo, MEC for environment in the City of Joburg, said greening programmes assisted in returning integrity to open spaces and restored dignity to the area.

The Soweto greening project started seven years ago and aims to plant 200 000 street trees by the year 2010. So far 90 990 trees have been planted and an additional 30000 will be planted by the end of this year.

Mandela thanked the community and Johannesburg City Parks for inviting him to be part of the memorable event.

"Thank you for giving me a chance to be part of this worthy project.

"I lived in Soweto for many years and it is great to return home. I am happy to see each and every one of you here today," he said.

R&B sensations Danny K and Loyiso Bala entertained the crowd. A children's choir from St Matthews Primary School also performed and sang a birthday song for Madiba.