Maropeng’s Harry the Hominid a “hit” at Meetings Africa 2011

  • March 30, 2011

24 February 2011

Meetings Africa 2011 took place at the Sandton Convention Centre from February 21 to 23, and Maropeng and its mascot model Harry the Hominid, were there to network and meet Africa’s tourism industry.

As the official “tour guide” of Maropeng, the Harry the Hominid model allows people to see what early humankind looked like, thereby making the information about our ancient ancestors a reality.

Having him at Meetings Africa was certainly was something to look out for and he received a lot of attention over the three-day event with local and international visitors all wanting a photograph taken with him. He also provided prospective tour operators with a taste of what the tourists they send to Maropeng will experience.
General manager of Maropeng, the visitor centre for the Cradle of Humankind, Erica Jago, says the event was a success. “This year we have also launched a new product, a team-building activity which allows executives the chance to excavate a fossil site at Cooper’s Cave in a group environment and this has been really well-received.”

Ms Jago added that Meetings Africa was a great opportunity to network and promote special events. “It is always good to meet new people and this year we saw an increased interest the school tours we offer and the Cooper’s Cave picnics and walking tours.”
The school tours are extremely popular as Maropeng, along with the national and Gauteng departments of education have produced an educational resource pack which is free for anyone to download off the Maropeng website. The pack is full of lesson plans which are integrated with the exhibition, allowing schools to have an educational and engaging time when they visit Maropeng.

Magel van de Venter, Maropeng education and marketing executive says Meetings Africa provided many opportunities to grow the school tours. “We are ensuring the existence of the business aspect of the tours by allowing people to put faces to the Maropeng name. Potential groups can ask us questions directly about how to go about booking a school tour and this allows us to give a personal touch and strengthen the relationship with various stakeholders.”

Ms Jago believes that Maropeng’s success is due it being a one-of-a-kind attraction. “When people talk to us, they keep saying that they are looking for something different and with our weekend events such as Stargazing and Cooper’s Cave, this is exactly what we offer – a unique experience in Gauteng.”


The following is a list of interesting and verified facts about the Maropeng Visitor Centre and the Cradle of Humankind:

• Maropeng means “returning to the place of our origins” in Setswana, the most commonly spoken indigenous language in the Cradle of Humankind area.
• Maropeng is the official visitor centre for the Cradle of Humankind, and is located 45 minutes’ drive from Johannesburg and Pretoria.
• Maropeng has state-of-the-art facilities that will make any conference, strategy session or team-building event a unique and unforgettable experience.
• Maropeng’s main building in which the exhibition is housed, is called the “Tumulus Building”, and also boasts state-of-the-art conference facilities for up to 500 delegates.
• The Cradle of Humankind is a World Heritage Site, declared because of its contribution to our understanding of the history of humanity. More than
1 000 hominid fossils have been found here in this 47 000 hectare area – more than at any other place on Earth.
• The Cradle of Humankind is one of eight World Heritage Sites in South Africa, and the only one in Gauteng.
• Maropeng was created through a public-private partnership between the Gauteng government, the University of the Witwatersrand and private business.
• Fossils discovered in the Cradle of Humankind include the famous Australopithecus sediba. A team led by Professor Lee Berger, a renowned paleoanthropologist from the University of the Witwatersrand, described and named this new species of hominid, which is almost 2-million years old. Other famous discoveries include “Mrs Ples” and “Little Foot” estimated to be also over 2-million years old. “Mrs Ples” is a well-preserved skull of an Australopithecus africanus; Little Foot is a full skeleton of an early australopithecine which is being excavated by Professor Ron Clarke from the Sterkfontein Caves, one of the Cradle of Humankind’s famous fossil sites, 10km from Maropeng.
• The universe was formed about 14-billion years ago. The Earth is about 4.6-billion years old. Life first emerged about 3.8-billion years ago. Some of the earliest fossils of life on Earth have been found in South Africa.
• South Africa has yielded fossils of some of the earliest known dinosaurs, at least 200-million years old.
• Africa is the birthplace of humankind. This is where our collective umbilical cord lies buried.
• Hominids – the ancestors of modern humans – first emerged about
7-million years ago in Africa.
• The first stone tools were made and used in Africa, at least 2.6-million years ago.
• Our ancestors were able to use and control fire at least 1-million years ago in the Cradle of Humankind.
• Homo sapiens, the species to which we all belong, evolved in Africa approximately 200,000 years ago. Africa ignited humankind’s imagination. Some of the oldest rock art in the world has been discovered in Southern Africa.
• All of humanity shares an African heritage. We are one, diverse species across the globe, with our roots in Africa.
• The visitor centre at Maropeng takes visitors on a journey of discovery of the origins of humankind concluding with an original fossil display. It is fun, interactive and educational for the whole family.

Issued by Flow PR on behalf of Maropeng.
For more information please contact:
Erica Jago                               Tshililo Ragimana
General manager                         Account executive
Maropeng a’ Afrika                     Flow PR
Tel: 014 577 9000                       Tel: 011 440 4841
Fax: 014 577 9200                       Fax: 086 630 9186      
Skype address: ericajfs                 Skype address:tshililoragimana  

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