Johannesburg - Letshego Zulu planted the first of 100 trees on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro in honour of her husband, Gugu, on Friday. Gugu Zulu died in an attempt to summit Africa's highest peak as part of the annual Trek4Mandela initiative in 2016.
Yesterday, though, was not a day for mourning, she said but a day to remember him - a man whose life had touched so many other people.
“I look forward to coming here with my grandchildren to show them these trees,” she said, “and to tell them how we planted them.”
Letshego was accompanied by their three-year-old daughter, Lelethu, Gugu’s mother Puleng Zulu and her mother Kgomolemo Moshoeu.
She was also joined by members of the Trek4Mandela centenary expedition who will start their bid tomorrow to summit Kilimanjaro by Mandela’s birthday on Wednesday.
“What an amazing way to honour my late husband; let’s celebrate with a smile, this is the day the Lord has made,” she said.
Today was a truly special day. Planted trees at Kanango Dam in Kilimanjaro in celebrating the life of #GuguZulu
— Letshego Zulu (@letshegom) July 13, 2018
Puleng Zulu was overcome as she packed down the rich red soil around the indigenous sapling she was planing near the waterline of the picturesque Karanga Dam that has served the village since 1950.
— Letshego Zulu (@letshegom) July 14, 2018
Reciting poems of praise in his honour, speaking to him through the tree; she said: “I wish you were here to see what I'm doing. Your dad's not here so I have to do it on my own.” She then bent and kissed one of the leaves and stood up.
Sarah Scott, the South African leader of the Kilimanjaro Project, explained that Trees4Gugu would be part of the 1000 trees for Madiba which in turn forms an integral part of a broader programme to plant a million trees over the next 10 years in the foothills of Kilimanjaro.
“A million trees is not enough but I hope that it will create rainfall we call this initiative tuje pamodja, Swahili for together we can be the change”