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Inkcubeko Nendalo and learners meet Ethembeni elders
18th September 2013

Inkcubeko Nendalo teacher, Mluleki Nkosi, met a Grahamstown elder at church earlier this year and while telling him about his work with schools the grandfather mentioned that his community centre (old-age centre) would very much like an umnquma tree for the garden. He added that the umnquma (wild olive) is a sacred tree in Xhosaland and having one in the garden would be appreciated by the all the elders who use the centre.

Every year Inkcubeko Nendalo plants a tree at a school in Grahamstown as part of National Arbour Day celebrations in September and links the planting of a culturally important tree to National Heritage Week, also in September. This year we decided to plant a wild olive at Ethembeni Service Centre for the senior citizens while at the same time inviting a number of school learners to participate. Six learners from nearby Mrwetyana Secondary School helped with planting the tree and afterwards each gave a short talk on the importance of trees. Not to be outdone, several elders also told of how trees and plants, the wild olive in particular, are important to them.

Journalist Matthew Smit provides further details in his story GREEN HERITAGE UNITES YOUNG AND OLD IN TREE CEREMONY in the Grocotts Mail herewith.

After the blessing of the tree with a prayer and hymns some of the elders suggested that for the garden to be fully representative of Xhosa custom it should also have an Ixhanti (tethering pole, that is the place of contact with the ancestors). A few days later Tony Dold delivered a traditional sneezewwod tethering pole to add to the wild olive in the garden.

       Mluleki Nkosi and Mrwetyana Secondary School learners planting the sacred wild olive at Ethembeni Service Centre