Madiba’s vibrant rose graces Europe

Sello Hatang, chief executive of the Nelson Mandela Foundation. Picture: Supplied
Sello Hatang, chief executive of the Nelson Mandela Foundation. Picture: Supplied

Wednesday, May 22, will go down in South African history as a day signified by the commencement of the activities of a highly spirited sixth Parliament.

Opposition representatives hugged and sang in unison, a far cry from the chaos witnessed in recent years.

This encouraging spirit was blown across the seas to London, UK, which hosted the European launch of the Nelson Mandela rose.

Speaking to City Press on the sidelines of the event hosted by the SA High Commission, chief executive of the Nelson Mandela Foundation Sello Hatang said: “We launch this rose on a significant day because it is on this day that the president elect of the republic commenced with his duties.

“It was also in this month [of May] in 1962 that Mandela officially landed in Nigeria, where he had gone to solicit support for the armed struggle. He then proceeded to this very city [London], where he consulted with Oliver Tambo and sought international solidarity for our struggle.”

The event was graced by representatives from Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho and Malawi on diplomatic missions in the UK.

Nomatemba “Thembi” Tambo, South African High Commissioner to the United Kingdom. Picture: Supplied

Beryl Ferguson, chairperson of the SA Biodiversity Institute, reiterated the symbolism of the rose for solidarity.

“This flower makes us proud Africans,” she said.

Ferguson’s team had earlier won its 37th consecutive gold medal at the annual Chelsea Flower Show.

Well-known horticulturist Keith Kirsten continued the important date’s theme by highlighting that the orange-vermilion flower was first launched on February 8 last year in Johannesburg, a day on which former president FW de Klerk had, in 1990, made the announcement about the release of political prisoners and the unbanning of the ANC, the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania and the SA Communist Party.

Kirsten, who built and later sold the famous Keith Kirsten chain of garden centres and nurseries, said the concept of a rose dedication to the celebrated regent of the Madiba clan was suggested by the foundation’s former head, Achmat Danghor.

From left: Camilla Bassett-Smith, Keith Kirsten, Sinenhlanhla Sithole, Sello Hatang, Beryl Ferguson and Rose Ncube

After launching it in South Africa last year, the landscaping expert says it is time for the vibrant rose to go global.

“Madiba is a global icon, so it is imperative that we go international.”

The rose was bred by a London-based horticulturist and was selected from a few others by Mandela’s widow Graça Machel, his former private secretary Zelda La Grange, the foundation’s manager of intellectual property and governance Heather Henriques, and Rose Ncube, a young and highly rated horticulturist in Kirsten’s Waterfall Estate office in Midrand.

Proceeds from local and international sales of the flower will go into the various projects that are funded by the foundation.


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