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New Nelson Mandela rose introduced

In one of the first events in the year-long celebration of Nelson Mandela’s birth, a rose named after him was launched in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Feb. 8, according to a news release. Former President Mandela, who died on Dec. 5, 2013, would have turned 100 on July 18, 2018.

MANDELA-1The disease-resistant Nelson Mandela Rose is a tall, orange-vermillion, prolific floribunda that grows to more than three feet tall in good conditions.The Nelson Mandela Foundation’s yearlong centenary program will center on the values of resilience, service and care, which were embodied by Mandela, said Foundation chief executive officer Sello Hatang in the release.

The values of service and care appear to be diminishing in contemporary South Africa, but the hope is that the Mandela Rose will serve as a reminder “that we are because of others.”

David Makhura, premier of Gauteng province, said there is “no better way” to honor Mandela’s legacy than to return to the path he chose for South Africa, one of democracy, good governance, the continued battle against racism and poverty, and public service. While the country stands “on the precipice of great uncertainty and anxiety,” Mandela’s centenary year is starting with renewed hope that there will be a return to “the path of Nelson Mandela,” which had been “derailed” in recent years.

“If roses are about love, public service is about service to the people,” said Makhura in the release. “We in government should be accountable; public service is about the love of our people, not about serving ourselves but about serving the people of South Africa.”

Horticulturist Keith Kirsten, who led the Mandela Rose’s development, said the idea for the plant came to him in 2000, while on a flight to New York when he happened to sitting next to Achmat Dangor, the then chief executive officer of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund.

The idea was shelved for various reasons until 2014 when the Foundation approached him about it.

The disease-resistant rose is a tall, orange-vermillion, prolific floribunda that grows to more than three feet in good conditions and is suitable for “any sunny position,” Kirsten said in the release. “I’d like to see us plant lots,” he said of the rose, which for him represents Mandela’s “vibrancy, stature and love.”

Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and his wife Leah attended the Mandela Rose launch, along with several other dignitaries, activists and business professionals.

The rose is available for purchase from Ludwig’s Roses and Malanseuns Pleasure Plants in Pretoria, South Africa.