The event was facilitated by Gauteng MEC for Economic Development Mr Lebogang Maile.
The Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site has been working on a strategy to collect footprints of Nobel Prize Laureates and State Presidents since 2002, when Former President Thabo Mbeki and Kofi Annan initiated this tradition.
Thabo Mbeki was South African President from 1999-2008 and Kofi Annan was the Secretary General of the United Nations from 1999-2006 and 2001 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.
South African President Jacob Zuma and Václav Klaus, the former President of the Czech Republic (2003-2013) have also donated their footprints.
Sidney Brenner won the 2002 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine made the positive step of coming to Maropeng. Peter Agre who received the 2003 Nobel Prize for Medicine and Archbishop Desmond Tutu who received the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize are also in this unique club.
The handprint of Nelson Mandela also forms part of this impressive collection at Maropeng, the official visitor centre of the COH WHS.
The story of FW de Klerk is intimately intertwined with that of Nelson Mandela. On 20 September 1989 he was inaugurated as State President and held that office until 09 May, 1994. On 2 February 1990 he announced the initiatives – including the release of Nelson Mandela – that opened the way to constitutional negotiations.
During the subsequent years of his presidency he and other leaders – most notably Nelson Mandela – helped to manage the process that led to South Africa’s first fully democratic elections on 27 April 1994. De Klerk went on to serve as one of Mandela’s Deputy Presidents in the Government of National Unity from 10 May 1994 (1994-05-10) – 30 June 1996.
In 1993 FW de Klerk and Nelson Mandela were joint recipients of the Nobel Prize for Peace, indicative of the world’s joy at a peaceful transition from minority rule to a peaceful democratic state.
In 1999 the former president founded the FW de Klerk Foundation which is dedicated to the promotion of positive relations between communities in multicultural societies and to upholding the Constitution that he helped negotiate. In 2006 the Foundation established its Centre for Constitutional Rights which plays an active role in the debate on constitutional issues and in initiatives to support the Constitution.
The Out of Africa II theory acknowledges the common African ancestry of all people alive today. It has suggested that the common female ancestor of all living humans (called ‘genetic Eve’) lived 143 000 years ago, whilst the common male ancestor (‘genetic Adam’) lived about 59 000 years ago.
This supports the so-called “Out of Africa II” hypothesis, for which there is also extensive palaeoanthropological evidence from the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site (COHWHS) and elsewhere in Africa.
The footprints project represents support for the belief that our ancestors walked out of Africa to populate the entire planet. The Presidents and Nobel Laureates contribute their footprints on behalf of all people alive today to celebrate our universal African origins.