Banyan tree ‘rooted’ in history

Little Echoes Educare pupils have already begun celebrating Heritage Month. The pupils had the privilege of seeing the Ficus Benghalensis Banyan Tree, situated on the premises of their play-school, which is a National Heritage site.

The Ficus Benghalensis Banyan Tree which is found on the premises of Berea Church in Phoenix is classified as one of the National Heritage sites in KZN.

The tree is as old as 1860 and was planted by the Indentured Labourers brought from India. Berea Church’s Stanley Govender said the tree use to serve as a meeting grounds for resolving disputes and community matters.

In 2009, the tree was on the brink of being destroyed by developers but this was brought to a halt by the community leaders, councillors and residents.

Today, declared a Heritage site, the tree has been cordoned off, fenced and maintained by the eThekwini Municipality’s Department of Parks and Gardens.

ALSO READ: Environmental activist aims to donate 100 trees

Berea Church has also been instrumental in maintaining the tree and has been utilising the unique heritage site for church celebratory events including Easter and Christmas.

“Twice a year, we use the tree to have a theme park where families get to come together and enjoy the beautiful aura whilst socialising under the tree. We generally invite community members to come for the gatherings and share their memories under this tree of great historical significance,” he said.

According to Govender, the unique tree is the first of its kind in South Africa and holds special heritage significance especially to Phoenix residents.

Mbali Khubisa

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