TEDxJohannesburgSalon LIFE| Past. Present. Future.


An exciting 3,6 billion-year-old journey into who we are.

A series of TEDxJohannesburgSalon talks on 27 October 2022, at The Forum in Bryanston, Johannesburg, will showcase the splendour of South Africa’s past and explore what it means for our future.

Tickets are now available for TEDxJohannesburgSalon | LIFE: Past. Present. Future taking place on 27 October 2022

Beneath the feet is a 3,6 billion-year-old story that, once unlocked, will help us unravel the deepest mysteries of life and steer us to a brighter future.  

This story and how it will help humans better understand themselves lies at the heart of a TEDxJohannesburgSalon event that will be happening on Thursday, October 27 2022, at The Forum in Bryanston, Johannesburg. It will start at 9:30 am and end at 2:30 pm.  

The event, themed LIFE: Past. Present Future will see some of the world’s top experts in the Palaeo sciences speak about that fascinating  3,6 billion-year-old story, from life’s earliest origins to our more recent ancestors.

As Bruce Rubidge, one of the speakers on the day, explains, it is a tale that can only be told from the perspective of South Africa. “It’s the only country in the world which boasts all of the following aspects in the development of life, the earliest evidence of life, the earliest multicelled organisms, some of the oldest fishes, the most primitive tetrapod ancestor of amphibians, the most extensive record of reptile radiation and diversification, and that includes the most distant ancestors of mammals, the oldest mammals and some of the oldest dinosaurs and also tortoises,” explains Rubidge: Palaeontologist, Professor at the Evolutionary Studies Institute, The University of the Witwatersrand. “Then a remarkable history of human origin, the development of technology, the earliest use of fire, art and personal adornment.”

 The TEDxJohannesburgSalon event is sponsored by GENUS, a network for Palaeosciences in Africa that aims to study the origins of species and inspire researchers and the public to find meaning in the past will help to make better-informed decisions for the future.

“We have partnered with TEDxJohannesburg to spark curiosity, open minds to groundbreaking fossil discoveries and a limitless world that is still waiting to be discovered. If you ask any question about the world around us, it all leads back to palaeoscience,” says Christine Steininger, Project Director of GENUS. “These talks are a first of their kind, and we are excited to support this showcase of African palaeoscience to a wider audience.”

The TEDxJohannesburgSalon talks have been a recent success. Since 2018 there have been 19 events held with over 200 speakers that have been viewed by over 10 million people, according to Kelo Kubu, the TEDxJohannesburg Licensee and Curator.

“An impressive lineup of speakers and the topics are sure to ignite curiosity and capture the imagination of industry experts and armchair enthusiasts. The event will be a combination of insightful talks, performances and exhibits,” explains Kubu. Most of the speakers on the day will be appearing at The Forum.  Those who can’t be patched in remotely.

“Without knowing our past, we cannot begin to see the future of life and humanity. Our partnership with TEDx gives us palaeo scientists a platform to share a story of life in all its diversity and splendour and showcase the South African heritage and wealth,” says Rubidge.

“We welcome all curious minds to spend the day with us in October and leave with their imagination sparked with new ideas and possibilities for the future.” 

Confirmed speakers are:

●    Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan: Palaeobiologist, Professor at the Dept of Biological Sciences, University of Cape Town.

●    Bongekile Zwane: Anthracologist, Postdoctoral Fellow at the African Centre for Coastal Palaeoscience, Nelson Mandela University.

●    Briana Pobiner: Researcher Scientist and Museum Educator with the Human Origins Program at the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian, and Palaeoanthropologist, Associate Research Professor of Anthropology at George Washington University, USA.

●    Bruce Rubidge: Palaeontologist, Professor at the Evolutionary Studies Institute, University of the Witwatersrand.

●     Jaganmoy Jodder: Geobiologist, Postdoctoral Fellow at the Evolutionary Studies Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand.

●    Jessica Thompson: Paleolithic  Anthropologist, assistant professor of anthropology at Yale University and Assistant Curator at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History.

●    Jonah Choiniere: Palaeobiologist, Professor at the Evolutionary Studies Institute and an Honorary Senior Lecturer, University of the Witwatersrand.

●   Professor José Braga: Paleoanthropologist, Centre for Anthropobiology and Genomics of Toulouse, Université de Toulouse, Université Paul Sabatier, France.

●    Keneiloe Molopyane: Archaeologist and Biological Anthropologist, Member of National Geographic Society’s 2021 Class of Emerging Explorers, Researcher at the Centre for the Exploration of the Deep Human Journey, University of the Witwatersrand.

●    Kimi Chapelle: Vertebrate Palaeontologist, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of the Witwatersrand.

●    Lee Watkins: Ethnomusicologist, Director of the International Library of African Music.

●    Elijah Madiba: Sound Engineer at the International Library of African Music.

●    Rob Muir: Geologist, University of the Free State.

●    Robyn Pickering: Geochemist and post-colonial feminist, Director of the Human Evolution Research Institute, University of Cape Town.

●    Rongedzayi Fambasayi: Managing Director for Play Africa Group NPC, a pioneering children’s museum in southern Africa.

●    Tammy Hodgskiss: Archaeologist and Curator at the Origins Centre Museum.

“We’re grateful to GENUS for their support for this event, everyone knows that deep beneath our feet here in southern Africa lies an astonishing range of mineral deposits. But how many of us know that the ground we walk on holds many of the answers to questions about who we are, where we come from, and how we got here? Our team has set out to curate a programme that seeks to answer these and other big questions. Our lineup includes some of the best people in the field from whom we would most want to learn. We invite you to come and share this unique moment with us.” says Kelo Kubu, TEDxJohannesburg Licensee and Curator.

“During Earth’s 4.6 billion year journey around the sun, myriad organisms have moved in and out of existence, creating an incredibly complex and infinitely fascinating system,” says Rubidge. “From cyanobacteria producing oxygen in our atmosphere to the innumerable creatures that created and inhabited our oceans and terrestrial landscapes, palaeoscience seeks to understand the origins of past life and thereby gain valuable insights into the future.

“We welcome all curious minds to spend the day with us and leave with their imagination sparked with new ideas and possibilities for the future.”


Date: 27 October 2022

Times : 9:30 – 14:30

Venue: The Forum Bryanston

Tickets – Quicket

Link – https://qkt.io/0k6lrP

Ithateng Mokgoro giving a speech at the Media release held at Origins Centre at The University of the Witwatersrand. Photo Credits: Chante Schatz.