30 May 2022

The tree, known locally as umKhanyakude (which translated means ‘seen from afar’), is also known as a yellow-barked fever tree (acacia xanthophloea). It is a striking and visually pleasing indigenous tree that occurs naturally in northern KZN, the Gauteng Lowveld, and the Kruger National Park.

Speaking at the tree planting ceremony, UMP Chancellor, Judge Maya requested that a bench be placed underneath the tree. “It is my wish to see this tree used as a gathering spot where people can sit and discuss whatever thoughts are milling in their minds,” she said.

“Thank you so much for honouring me in this way. The meaning of this is to plant me personally in this beautiful university situated in this beautiful province of Mpumalanga. This is an umbilical cord that I hope will keep us together until the end of time.”

UMP The tree-planting ceremony kickstarted the seventh graduation ceremony.

UMP Chairperson of Council, Professor Mabunda said the institution decided to plant the tree because it was very close to the people’s inner beings.

“The tree is used to honour people or to show love because it is a phenomenon that is being used internationally. Like Americans respect and use the redwood tree, the Europeans respect the Oaktree, while Africa uses the Baobab tree,” he continued.

“In modern humanity, we embrace trees and forestry in such a way that, for example, in Japan they use forest therapy and forest bathing as a spiritual way to help people heal via the natural presence of trees. Trees are important because they help produce the oxygen we need to breathe. Soon we will be planting many more trees around campus,” said Mabunda.

Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture and Natural Sciences, Professor Moses Mbewe said the kind of tree that was planted in the institution's yard was important as its roots grow and spread so that it becomes helpful to fight soil erosion.

“umKhanyakude is an indigenous tree that grows well, is remarkable, and cannot go unnoticed. It is a beautiful tree with a striking shape that forms good shade under which people can sit and relax.”

The tree-planting ceremony also kickstarted the seventh graduation ceremony, held to celebrate the achievements of students who have completed their qualifications during past academic year.

@ Story by Lisa Thabethe. Pictures Supplied.