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July : NMMU staff, students honour the legacy of Madiba

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23 July, 2014

NMMU staff, students honour the legacy of Madiba


ALL HANDS ON DECK ... Alderman Charles Standers, Executive Mayor of George, did not hesitate to play his part in planting a Yellowwood tree at the NMMU George Campus as part of the university's Mandela Day celebrations.  He was supported in true Madiba-spirit by postgraduate Forestry students (f.l.t.r.) Tatenda Mapeto, Hannes van Zyl and Kutelani Tshivhase, as well as Mr Trevor Botha, Municipal Manager, Prof Jos Louw, Director of the NMMU School of Natural Resource Management (back), and Cllr Chris Neethling.

Staff and student leaders at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University's George Campus were joined by guests from the Rosemore Retirement Centre, along with representatives of the George Municipality and the George Business Chamber to honour the legacy of the university's namesake and international icon - Dr. Nelson Mandela!

Postgraduate students and peer helpers - students who volunteer to be coached in order to lend support to other students - graciously assisted senior citizens to plant a special tree in Madiba's honour.  The symbiotic relationship between "town and gown" was further cemented when the Executive Mayor of George, Alderman Charles Standers, accompanied by the municipal manager, Mr Trevor Botha, Cllr Chris Neethling and university staff and students planted a second yellowwood tree.  Staff from the Business and Economic Sciences Faculty also joined the George Business Chamber president, Dr Willie Cilliers in planting a Nuxia floribunda, commonly known as the Vlier or Forest Elder - an attractive flowering tree.

The choice of trees was steeped in symbolism, with the characteristics of the Outeniqua Yellowwood (Kalander), described as the Big 5 of trees, linked to the values and qualities of former President Mandela.  Prof Jos Louw, Director of NMMU's School of Natural Resource Management, explained that these trees stand out above the rest when they are mature, providing protection to the rest of the forest to grow and prosper.

Dr Willie Cilliers, president of the George Business
Chamber, assisted by (f.l.t.r.) NMMU Business and
Economic Sciences lecturers Sam Webber,
Abrie de Swardt, Arthur Peters, Dr Marianne Doubell,
Martin Loubser (Operations Director), Adele Potgieter &
Elsa Myburgh (Manager: NMMU  Business School, George) honoured Madiba by planting a Forest Elder
(Vlier) at the NMMU George Campus.

Prof Louw, who officiated at the campus' Mandela Day celebrations,  also indicated that the university is particularly honoured to carry the name of Nelson Mandela and that the institution has grown considerably in national and international stature since its inception in 2005.  "The university formulated its values of Responsibility, Excellence, Respect for Diversity and the Natural Environment, Ubuntu and Integrity, around the person of Madiba...  we aspire to imprint the Madiba-spirit in our students and colleagues", he said.  Prof Louw reiterated that sustainability was a central theme cutting across all programmes offered at NMMU, and that the trees planted in honour of Dr Mandela would also support the Green Campus initiative.

The Campus Principal, Prof Quinton Johnson, who was representing the university at a world congress at the time, summarised the value of Madiba's inspiring example by saying "Our greatest gift to Dr Mandela is that, as knowledge cataysts, we take action to inspire change for a more sustainable future".