Palaeontological Scientific Trust Exhibition heads to Soweto

The Palaeontological Scientific Trust (PAST) and its key partners move their popular and thought-provoking “All From One” exhibition to the Zindala Zombili African music and dance festival at the Soweto theatre.

The exhibition is part of the like-named science-based campaign promoting social cohesion, which was launched in 2015 in partnership with Standard Bank. This leg of the journey follows the highly successful launch of the campaign outside Standard Bank’s Rosebank offices in November last year and is timed to coincide with the Zindala Zombili African Music and Dance Festival in Soweto, which as a project of the African Cultural Heritage Trust has become South Africa’s premier indigenous cultural festival.

Zindala Zombili is South Africa’s premier indigenous cultural festival. The festival promotes the conservation and celebration of South Africa’s rich and diverse indigenous heritage and culture. The “All From One” exhibition fits in perfectly with the festival, helping to create a broader picture of our heritage, and driving the message of unity.

Key partners include Standard Bank, the Department of Science and Technology, and National Arts Council (NAC).

A lack of tolerance for others is one of the major ills besetting society today and the campaign heralds the remarkable fact that there is a 99.9% similarity between the chemical sequences making up the genomes of any two people. The campaign celebrates Africa as the birthplace of humankind and is aimed at improving the public’s awareness of the shared origins of all people.

“We are proud to be a key supporter of an initiative that breaths to life one of our strategic objectives which is to utilise the arts to drive nation building and social cohesion. It is through partnerships such as this one that we can actively encourage and foster nation building and social cohesion within our various communities. This initiative drives home the basic truths of our shared origins and drives a message of tolerance and acceptance, which are key steps to social cohesion and nation building,” says Ms Rosemary Mangope, National Arts Council (NAC) Chief Executive Officer.

NAC is a national agency mandated by the Department of Arts and Culture with the responsibility of developing South Africa’s creative industry by awarding grants to individuals and organisations in the arts.

The NAC is a partner for the Soweto leg of the exhibition, and has appointed PAST as its institutional partner for social cohesion.

“To promote and develop excellence in the arts, you need to promote the free and creative expression of South Africa’s cultures,” says Ms Mangope.

The NAC has supported and encouraged initiatives like PAST’s Walking Tall Educational Theatre Project that use art education through physical theatre to communicate the science of our shared origins.

Key influencers and celebrities like Jay Naidoo and others have had their DNA tested, to get a breakdown of their personal ancient ancestry and highlighting the fact that we are 99.9% alike.

Science proves 99.9% of the 3 billion nucleotides in your genome are the same as any other member of the human species. “The scientific fact is humans are 99.9% alike, with just a few genes making for the differences in skin colour,” says Prof Robert Blumenschine, Chief Scientist at PAST.

“The message that the exhibition conveys – ‘we all come from one’ – has never been more important, given the difficulties of this world. The exhibit tells us that we are indeed one and should be united as humanity,” says Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, who is a Patron of the campaign.

The festival will include PAST’S Walking Tall educational theatre workshop, which is a mobile, cost-effective, and lasting educational intervention and outreach mechanism that since 2002 has reached over one million people, primarily learners and educators in South Africa, and also audiences in Namibia, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Belgium and Sweden.

The show is an effective educational tool whether performed in an auditorium or under a tree. It was introduced to explain the complexity of evolution of life to an audience in simple language.

The campaign is long term with several stops for the exhibition scheduled in 2016 and 2017 to promote our shared origins.

The exhibition is set to travel nationally and then to tour in East Africa (Kenya & Tanzania) and then West Africa (Nigeria and Ghana). Following that, it will also launch in the UAE in Dubai hosted by Sheikh Nahayan, the Middle East Campaign Patron. In 2017, the PAST exhibition is set to land in London, New York and/or Washington.

The global campaign will be promoted by patrons known world-wide for their advocacy of human rights. The All from One campaign seeks to commit people from across the world to four human ideals validated by the science of our origins: tolerance, unity, collaboration and conservation.

“Africa is the world’s fossil storehouse and the lessons learnt from our rich heritage will drive our success into the future. Every citizen – from schoolchildren to corporate executives – will benefit from a deeper understanding of our common and shared origins,” concludes PAST CEO, Andrea Leenen.

 

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