Leave your mark: Maropeng launches Isivivane

  • August 15, 2016 | Cassidy Parker

There is an ancient African custom, prevalent across the continent, and evidence of it can be found in age-old settlements and at the entrances to contemporary villages.

The custom is simple, but deeply symbolic. It dictates that a traveller leaving a village on a journey must spit on a stone – leaving his or her DNA behind – and place it on a pile of stones laid by previous travellers. With the passing of time, the pile grows, representing the many men and women who have journeyed onwards. When these travellers return, they find their stones waiting to welcome them back.

In Zulu, the practice is called “isivivane”.

The names of those present at the launch were engraved onto stones, ready to placed onto the ground at Maropeng. (Image: Maropeng)

Maropeng has long wished to enable its visitors to commemorate their journey to our remarkable site, as travellers once marked their journeys with stones. Through the custom of isivivane, we have found a way to do so.

On Monday, 15 August, Maropeng launched its own isivivane programme, which provides visitors with the opportunity to have their names, or the name of a loved one, engraved on a stone and placed at Maropeng for posterity.

"Maropeng is symbolic of the human journey," said Michael Worsnip, Maropeng general manager. "The journey from our earliest known beginnings to wherever we are going to be in the future."

"We are wanting to celebrate the journey of everyone who comes to Maropeng ... This is for all people who have made the human journey, whether they are living or whether they are not living anymore. It is intended to be a really joyous and symbolic recognition of the journeys that we have all made."

Maropeng general manager, Michael Worsnip, launches the isivivane initiative. (Image: Maropeng)

"We are going to use the stones, and we have a number of options on the proposal list at the moment," said Worsnip. "One of them is that we will start by laying the stones on the already existing paths in and around Maropeng ... There are also a lot of walls where we could put stones. Alternatively, when Maropeng was envisaged, right in the very beginning, they had right – throughout the 100ha property – a grid pattern ... And each grid point could well be where we erect a 2m dome with names on it so that one could traverse the property on grid lines and see the names of various people."

As a visitor, you will be able to purchase your stone at the marketplace and posiition it wherever is meaningful for you. Should you also wish to take a rock home with you as a reminder of your pilgrimage to the Cradle of Humankind, you are welcome to have an additional rock engraved.

A portion of the profits of this new venture will go towards the community social investment projects that Maropeng supports in the area. By being a part of this journey, you can leave a mark not only in the ground of a World Heritage Site but, in a very real way, in the lives of the people who live here.

Visit Maropeng today, or contact us for more information.

Engraved stones are placed in the ground. These are sure to grow more numerous with each passing day. (Image: Maropeng)

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