Stories & Projects

Public lecture: Returning to the Place of Origin

Lesley Lokko is an architect, academic and the author of ten best-selling novels. She is currently Head of School at the Graduate School of Architecture, University of Johannesburg, South Africa. She has been an on-going contributor to discourses around identity, race, African urbanism and the speculative nature of African architectural space and practice for over twenty-five years. 

She visited Umeå School of Architecture to hold her lecture Maropeng Acts I & II.


04 P Lokko 02 MAROPENG ACTS I & II 

Maropeng Act I: 'Maropeng' is a Setswana word meaning 'returning to the place of origin' and is the local name for the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage site, the world's richest early hominim site some 50km northwest of Johannesburg. On September 13, 2103, two recreational cavers stumbled across a narrow opening in the rock face, leading to an underground 'room' whose floor was covered in fossil bones. In just three weeks, a six-woman team of scientists, chosen for their size, paleo-anthropological and caving skills, uncovered over 1,200 fossils belonging to an extinct species classified as ancestral to modern man. According to Wits University findings, Homo naledi deliberately disposed of its dead, an act of design that previously was thought to belong exclusively to humans.

Maropeng Act II: Just south of Maropeng is the world's oldest meteorite crater, the Vredefort Dome. Two billion years ago, a 10km wide rock hit the earth, creating a scar that can still be seen from space. The impact altered the geological structure of the area, forcing the Witwatersrand rocks closer to the surface. In 1886, gold was discovered under the earth on which the city of Johannesburg stands, altering the course of history.

Through drawings, texts and soundscapes, it explores a number of themes in relation to 'place' and 'origin': language; mother tongue; roots/routes; first flashes and false findings; dialogues and discourses; rhythm; polyrhythm; time (on time, in time, African time); snippets and samples, the idea of perpetual beginnings.  


For more information, please contact:

Emelie El-Habta, Administrator at Umeå School of Architecture, Umeå University

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