A Tree & Tradition Grow in Zimbabwe, Host Country Day Tree Planting Ceremony

7 Jun

The inaugural seed for the Tree Planting Ceremony was planted in Banjul, Gambia three years ago at ATA’s 35th Annual Congress. The tradition continued with ATA delegates planting a dozen trees on the campus of Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar, Senegal in 2011. This year, 12 miles from the Elephant Hills Hotel in Victoria Falls, ATA and the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) sow the tradition of planting trees to offset the carbon footprint of the Congress.

12 Miles from Vic Falls, ATA & ZTA sow a tradition (Photo by: Matt Andrea)

The Host Country Day Tree Planting Ceremony is a time when we break from the lectures, panels, and powerpoints to step out of the conference room and into the local community–this year visiting the Ko Mpisi Village, 12 miles on the Vic Falls-Hwange Road. After a short drive from the hotel, we pull over and are guided to our places.

Delegates sit under shade of the tree listening to welcome remarks by Mr. Givemore Chidzidzi, COO of the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (Photo by: Matt Andrea)

Men sit under the shade of the canopy and women under the shade of the trees. We listen as Chief Mvuthu of Mpisi Village; Zimbabwe Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Engineer Walter Mzembi; Mr. Givemore Chidzidzi, Chief Operating Officer of the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority; and ATA Executive Director Mr. Eddie Bergman deliver welcome remarks and explain the tradition of the Tree Planting Ceremony.

Children from the local primary school tell delegates about the tree species to be planted (Photo by: Matt Andrea).

Children from the local primary school recite descriptions of the indigenous tree species we will plant. We applaud as each student finishes his or her recitation. You can feel their pride radiate to the audience as we move from one student to the next.

Minister of Tourism, Wildlife, and Heritage of Uganda, Professor Ephraim Kamuntu plants a tree (Photo by: Andrea Papitto).

Then, there is an unexpected announcement. The tree planting will not stop on May 20th. The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority announces that 2,000 indigenous trees will be planted over the next year in collaboration with the local Forestry Commission to honor the Nation’s commitment to conserve and its natural resources. This is the biggest Tree Planting Ceremony to date!

We roll up our sleeves, break ground, dig into the dirt, and start planting.

Minister of Tourism, Wildlife, and Heritage of Uganda, Professor Ephraim Kamuntu (Photo by: Matt Andrea).

Planting…..

Chief Mvuthu plants a tree for Mpisi Village (Photo by: Matt Andrea).

Planting…..

Zimbabwe Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Engineer Walter Mzembi  (Photo by: Matt Andrea).

Planting…..

Governor and Resident Minister for Matabeleland North Province, Cde Thokozile Mathuthu (Photo by: Matt Andrea).

Planting…..

Mrs. Marah Hativagone, Chair of the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority Board (Photo by: Matt Andrea).

Planting…..

ATA board members plant a tree on behalf of all members of the organization (Photo by: Matt Andrea).

Planting…..

Primary school children at the Tree Planting Ceremony (Photo by: Matt Andrea).

One of the eight trees planted on May 20th, 2012. 1,992 to go!

One of 2,000 trees to be planted to offset the carbon footprint of ATA’s 37th Annual Congress (Photo by: Andrea Papitto).

For more photos of Host Country Day 1 at Mpisi Village, please visit our Flickr page:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/65134942@N06/sets/72157630057701018/

By: Andrea Papitto, Thinking Forward Media; Photos by: Matt Andrea and Andrea Papitto

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