A tree that symbolises hope and survival. This is what the special persimmon tree that was planted at Rietenbosch Primary in Cloetesville on Earth Day, April 22, represents.
Stellenbosch mayor Conrad Sidego, and the principal of the school, Roy van Rooyen, planted this tree as part of the Earth Day celebration.
The sapling is a “descendant” of a persimmon tree that survived the atomb bomb in Hiroshima, Japan – on August 6, 1945. About 200 different trees survived the atom bomb and bear plaques identifying them as Hibakujumoku (survivor tree).
After WW2, the president of Hiroshima University sent a letter to countries across the globe asking for seeds and seedlings so Hiroshima could once again become green.
In 2011 Hiroshima started sending seeds and cuttings from the survivor trees to other countries through Green Legacy Hiroshima an initiative of the Hiroshima Office of the UN Institute for Training and Research (HITAR), and the Asian Network of Trust. This initiative is part of an effort to spread a message of peace across the globe.
“Mr Van Rooyen intends planting so many trees at Rietenbosch that it resembles a forest. But, this is not just an ordinary forest. It is also a spiritual forest,” said Mr Sidego.
“The persimmon from Hiroshima reminds us of the terrible things that happened in the past, but it also gives us hope for the future. Trees put oxygen into the air but so many people in this town smother in poverty. ””
According to Mr Van Rooyen, 220 other trees were planted at his school on Earth Day – excluding the persimmon. It was done with the help of Wildlands, Stellenbosch Municipality’s Million Tree Project, and staff from Distell’s Employee Volunteer Programme.
Lydia van Rooyen from Wildlands said each of the trees donated to the school were nurtured by treepreneurs. They grow seeds and once the tree reaches a certain height, it can be bartered to Wildlands in return for a number of goods – including food packages and bicycles – depending on the size of the tree and the number of trees bartered.