Construction of the biggest labyrinth in the world, which will eventually consist of more than 120 000 spekboom trees, is underway.
The Great Labyrinth of Africa is a project initiated by Peter Shrimpton, CEO of Stellenbosch-based NPO Heart Capital, and will be located at the Stellenbosch Bridge Smart City, between Klapmuts and Elsenburg Agricultural College.
The project will cost about R9 million.
Labyrinth expert Terry de Vries is the designer of the project.
And spekboom trees were especially identified to build the labyrinth with, as they take 10 times more CO² out of the atmosphere than an ordinary tree, and only need about 250 ml of water a year to survive. Because a spekboom is the number one carbon gulper on the planet, it will go a long way to helping the fight against climate change.
According to Shrimpton, the project started about three years ago through Heart Capital’s Wonder Plant initiative. In all, 300 spekboom trees were bought, cuttings snipped off and distributed, along with other necessary material, to about 100 residents of various townships, including Kayamandi.
They then grew the trees at their homes until about a year ago, when Heart Capital started buying the trees back from the growers. What started with 300 trees has now proliferated into about 164 000.
“One tree can produce about 15 trees,” Shrimpton pointed out. “Some people were growing the trees behind their shacks in a space as big as a door. That is enough space for about 100 trees. They grew it until about 10 cm, then we would buy it back from them and put them in a central hub in the township.”
In Kayamandi, for example, this central hub was at Makupula Secondary School where they had about 10 000 trees. There the trees grew until about 20 cm. “Then we took them and put them in our nursery in Simondium where we grow them to about 30-40 cm when they are ready to go into the ground.”
There are about 86 000 trees at the nursery in Simondium, and they have started moving them to the site where the labyrinth will be situated.
Also at the nursery the organisation has identified five previously disadvantaged young men for its “tree-preneur” programme, where they will receive training in entrepreneurship. Each “tree-preneur” is responsible for 25 000 trees.
“We have set them up in their own nurseries. It’s their trees, and then we buy those trees from them to put into our great labyrinth project.”
A labyrinth has only one way in which one can walk around and around until one gets to the centre. On getting out again one goes back the same way. Labyrinths promote mindfulness because one is walking in a circle. It forces one into being introspective and almost puts one into a state of hypnoses.
The labyrinth will be 230 m x 230 m, the same size as The Great Pyramid of Giza, which can be seen from space.
Not only will the Labyrinth be the biggest of its kind in the world, but it will also be the only labyrinth in the world with its own cycling route.
The route from the start to the centre of the labyrinth will be 5 km, but shorter routes will be established for those not able to complete the whole route, yet wish to have the labyrinth experience.
De Vries said a search is underway for a suitable granite rock from Paarl Mountain as the centre core, since Paarl Mountain is an ancient sacred site, so the good energy from the rock can radiate throughout the labyrinth. She said the aim of the Great Labyrinth of Africa is to be a source and symbol of radiating peace throughout the continent.
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