Scores of trees were planted at three sites in and around Johannesburg on Sunday to mark the150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi's birth.
The project was spearheaded by Indian Consul General in the city, Dr K J Srinivasa, who planted the first of 10 trees at his office to add to the leafy nature of Parktown, the suburb where the Consulate is situated.
Johannesburg is reputed to have the greatest number of tree-lined streets in the world.
Then the diplomat sped off to the sprawling mainly Indian township of Lenasia, south of Johannesburg, to join the Gandhi Walk Committee in planting 20 trees on the site of the Gandhi Hall, one of the most popular venues in the area for cultural performances and community events.
The Gandhi Hall was built in Lenasia after the apartheid-era government demolished the original Gandhi Hall in the city centre where the lawyer, who would become the Mahatma, held many community meetings to mobilise the local community into protesting the unjust laws of the time.
The final stop was Tolstoy Farm, some 10 km outside Lenasia, the commune started by Gandhi during his tenure in Johannesburg at the turn of the last century before he returned to India to lead the country to independence there.
“This project is part of the plans by the Government of India for each Indian mission across the globe to plant 200 trees in their cities to mark the 150th year of Gandhi’s birth,” Srinivasa said as eager members of the local community joined him to plant 50 trees on the once thriving area.
Plans are currently under way with the Indian High Commission and a local committee to turn the now largely bare site into a tourist attraction.
“We will also plant more trees at schools in Lenasia to bring the total to beyond 200 soon,” Srinivasa said, adding that the schools would also be involved in a joint project between the Consulate and the Gandhi Walk Committee on July 14 for a massive bicycle ride in the area.