Miss South Africa learns about the importance of our human origins

She meets and inspires learners from Lanseria

By CityLIfe Arts Writer

Miss South Africa Ndavi Nokeri went back to school for a lesson in paleoanthropology and Alien Invasive Plant (AIP) species when she visited the Malapa Motsetse Foundation’s Explorer Centre this week.
The centre is located within the Greater Cradle Nature Reserve (GCNR) on a privately owned 9000-hectare UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) world heritage site that is home to the Cradle Boutique Hotel & Nature Reserve and boasts three active paleoanthropological sites still unearthing hominid and animal fossils.
Nokeri was the inspirational guest speaker at a teaching and learning event for learners  who attend St Ansgar’s High School, adjacent to the reserve.

Miss South Africa and the learners were introduced to UMSUKA, a public palaeoanthropology programme aimed at increasing the accessibility of common fossil hominin heritage for South Africans of diverse backgrounds.
Wendy Maduwa, GCNR’s AIP and UMSUKA programme manager explained: “Our aim is to engage a wide audience with the past in ways that unite us in the present and help us work towards a better-shared future.”
The programme creates insightful educational experiences for learners by exposing them to the GCNR’s fossil sites, the uniquely curated Malapa Museum as well as the science behind palaeoanthropology. To date 10 schools and 500 learners, predominantly from disadvantaged communities, visit the site each quarter.
With regard to alien invasive plants, Maduwa said they posed a threat to the ecosystem as they compete with indigenous species in a habitat: “They also have a detrimental impact on water security (they deplete surface water runoff and groundwater recharge) as well as the ecological functioning of natural systems and the efficient agricultural use of land. They cause soil erosion and amplify the effects of fires and floods.”
Education in all its forms is close to Nokeri’s heart and she has devoted her Miss South Africa reign to redressing the imbalances in education through her advocacy campaign, Ed-Unite which will be launched this week.
“There needs to be a level playing field for everyone – rich or poor, urban or rural – when it comes to education. As Nelson Mandela said ‘Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world’. Through Ed-Unite, I am working as the link between big business and schools and learners, matching funding with need.”
Nokeri and Maduwa discovered that they are both University of Pretoria alumni and the first people in their immediate families to gain a university degree, agreeing that education has changed the course of their lives.
Nokeri, who hails from Tzaneen in Limpopo, travels to New Orleans in the United States in January next year to represent South Africa at the Miss Universe finale and will take with her a message reinforcing the importance of equal education.
Miss South Africa is presented by Weil Entertainment in association with M-Net, Mzansi Magic and Sun International.

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