The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality became the first in the country to launch a Garden of Remembrance for deceased Councillors who diligently served the Nelson Mandela Bay Council from 1994 until now during a ceremony at the Donkin Reserve today.
Families of 52 deceased Councillors from all political denominations as well as sitting councillors amongst others came together to pay tribute to those who played a role in the local legislature.
Executive Mayor Benson Fihla, affectionately known as Oom Ben, said the Garden of Remembrance is history in the making as this is the first of its kind in South Africa.
“These men and women played a significant role in the municipality and the communities they served to contribute in improving their lives for the better.
“In their line of duty they dedicated all their time, energy, skills, and resources for the betterment of the living conditions of our people.
“As the municipality we are proud of all them for the contribution they have made,” he said.
The project was widely described as the legacy of Executive Mayor Benson Fihla since it was conceptualized after he took office in March 2013.
During a special 30 second video interpretation by family members of the deceased councillors, family members took the time to thank the municipality and the Executive Mayor for honouring the work and memory of their loved ones.
Referring to the unique location at the Donkin Reserve from where the fallen city fathers and mothers will be overlooking the city, Oom Ben described the Garden of Remembrance as a place to which people of all races, cultures, ages and beliefs will come to pay quiet tribute to those whose memory will never be extinguished.
Member of Parliament Cedric Frolick, who spoke on behalf of the ANC, aptly called the Martin Luther King quotation to mind: “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree” as trees were planted and memorial stones unveiled for all the fallen public servants.
The only two Councillors, who passed on since 1994 and were not honoured today, are Manelisi “Lucky” Vumazonke (who died of an illness) and Buyisile Mkavu (assassinated due to his stance towards social justice). Their families are still in mourning and a ceremony will be held for them at a later stage.
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