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It is 2021! The new year we have all been waiting for. The year we would all get out of our funk.

That’s great and everything, but let’s think about this: Covid-19 is not going to back up just because it’s not pandemic year any more. Please continue to wear your mask, wash your hands, maintain your social distance, and just be safe all around.

Okay, that’s my little Covid moment … sitting in quarantine has provided some time to sit down, think and write. So, let’s recap on the past couple of months (last year, and beyond).

For those of you who have kept up to date with both mine and Prof. Lee Berger’s Twitter accounts (@Keneiloe and @LeeRBerger), you would have noticed that in the first two weeks or so of December, we went quiet.

One minute we were tweeting about the #105site and all the interesting fossil-bearing breccia that we can’t wait to start preparing. The next thing, a mysterious tweet around international travel went out, and then radio silence.

@LeeRBerger (Dec 7 2020):

Getting ready for an exciting trip, next years work and some comments on the last weeks work at the #105site

Then this tweet went out. What?!

@LeeRBerger (Dec 10 2020):

Back on wonderful @emirates on our way to do a special mission to the USA with @Keneiloe and meeting @Matty_Berger98 - good to be flying again for important work! Watching #MrRodgers of course!

Let’s have a flashback moment. Think back to October 2019. I know it seems like a very long time ago considering this was in the “before times” thanks to Covid, but let me help you out a little bit.

Australopithecus sediba (Karabo) and Homo naledi (Neo) embarked on a remarkable trip, passports in hand, to the US for the opening of a world-class exhibition at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, in Dallas, Texas.


The exhibition, Origins: Fossils from the Cradle of Humankind, was the perfect opportunity to showcase South African fossils to an international audience. Having had the opportunity to see the exhibition in person, I can say it is world class!

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After being on display, the Origins exhibition and the two fossils (Karabo and Neo) were meant to return to South Africa, and of course be on display to the South African audience. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic that took the world on a rollercoaster ride none of us was ever ready for, Origins remained in Dallas for a further eight months … waiting to come home.

This is where the mysterious tweet mentioned earlier ties this post together. When our international borders were reopened, Mission Homecoming got under way and what could be packed up and shipped, set sail for South Africa. (No Titanic moments, thank goodness.)

The fossils, however, required a different mode of transportation that came with its own personal bodyguards, primarily myself, Prof. Berger and special guest Matthew Berger! I cannot express how honoured and privileged I felt to be a part of the repatriation party.

Travelling halfway across the world, carrying precious cargo, had its stressful moments, but overall it was a pretty smooth trip thanks to the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, Emirates airline and the Perot Museum.

@LeeRBerger (Dec 16 2020):

Neo and Karabo are coming home to #SouthAfrica after being #covid refugees held safely @PerotMuseum for almost ten months! mission #getthefossilshome

@Keneiloe (Dec 17 2020):

There were moments when I felt like I was in a movie, and it was great! But at the end of the day, we’re home. We’re safe. I’m in quarantine, though. Sigh …

But I’d like to leave you with a bit of a teaser: coming soon to a Maropeng near you …

Origins: fossils from the Cradle of Humankind.

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