Honoring Madiba: Emerging African leaders celebrate Mandela Day with planting

Between cheers of “Go Big Red” and a final ceremonial song, 25 Mandela Washington Fellows celebrated the legacy of Nelson Mandela with a July 18 tree planting at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Working with Landscape Services, the fellows planted a London Planetree (Platanus x acerifolia) on the north side of the Animal Science Complex on Nebraska’s East Campus. The arbor is also called a Mandela tree, honoring the time the former South African president planted one during a July 10, 1996 ceremony in London’s St. James Park. The East Campus planting was held in accordance with Nelson Mandela International Day, which commemorates Mandela’s lifetime of service to Africa and the world. The annual observance is held July 18, which is Mandela’s birthday. The arbor was grown by Laurence Ballard, nursery director for Landscape Services, in the university’s tree nursery.
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Planting a memory

Along with the tree planting, the ceremony featured the placement of a time capsule that contains a paper commemorating the event. The paper was signed by each of the Mandela Washington Fellows before the time capsule was placed within the roots of the tree.

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Mandela Washington Fellows

The University of Nebraska–Lincoln is one of 38 sites selected to host Mandela Washington Fellows. The participants are young professionals, between the ages of 25 and 35, from sub-Saharan Africa. The fellows are spending six weeks at the university, participating in civil leadership activities.

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