‘We are bound together by a common ancestry’: Ramaphosa

“Today will be written into the history books as one of those moments in which the world learnt something new and remarkable‚” Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Thursday of the discovery of a new species of primitive hominin‚ Homo naledi‚ at Maropeng.

“The discovery of a new species of primitive hominin in our own genus reveals much about our ancestors. In time‚ it may reveal much about ourselves.

“This find will generate interest from beyond the scientific community. It will inspire poets and writers to revisit Africa’s rich oral traditions‚ and to imagine ways to retell the story of our common ancestry‚” Ramaphosa said.

“It will encourage us to enquire further about the whole scope of human existence‚ the world around us‚ and the world before us.

“We expect that it will catch the imagination and stimulate the interest of people across the world — people who are excited about knowledge and learning. We are delighted that discoveries that we would never have imagined have been found here at the southern tip of the African continent.”

The deputy president said that Maropeng‚ the visitor centre to the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site‚ was opened almost 10 years ago. “At the time we said that this would become an iconic place‚ a place of pilgrimage‚ a place belonging to the people of South Africa‚ Africa and the world‚ the place where our collective umbilical cord is buried.

“We did not imagine then that a new species would be unearthed telling us more about our human journey than we knew before. We now know that research in the Cradle of Humankind will yield yet more information for decades to come.

“The legendary Prof Philip Tobias‚ a stalwart of the University of the Witwatersrand‚ is no longer with us. But I am quite sure he would have reminded us that these finds again underline the fact that Africa‚ our continent‚ is the home of great scientific discoveries‚ the home of our humanity‚ the home of our culture.

“These discoveries underline the fact that despite our individual differences in appearance‚ language‚ beliefs and cultural practices‚ we are bound together by a common ancestry.

“Government has fulfilled its international responsibility to UNESCO to protect‚ preserve and showcase this site of outstanding universal value to the world.

“On behalf of the people of South Africa‚ I invite the world to visit the Cradle of Humankind Visitor Centre‚ Maropeng where this new find will be on display for one month.”

Ramaphosa said the discovery was the result of outstanding research by a large team of collaborators from across the world.


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