Our CrackerJack Speakers
Trace why South Africa can lay claim to being the cradle of life.
Explore ‘big history’ – major events on the road of our cultural evolution to becoming human.
Track where human origins began via revealing evidence and ancestral milestones in
The Cradle of Humankind.
Connect the concepts of fossil and First People – the San, one of the last hunter-gatherer societies on Earth.
Hear from distinguished scientists and a multi-skilled specialist about our complex, incomplete and
highly contentious history, that enlightens us as to who we are, and how we ended up here, now.
After receiving his PhD from Harvard. John taught marine geology at the University of South Florida. Since his arrival on our shores, he’s been an associate professor in the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Cape Town, published over 50 papers in scientific journals, written popular science books that enlighten, stimulate and inform readers about Earth, and been involved with several TV documentaries on the geology of Cape Town.
John’s an earth scientist with a passion for writing about Earth and providing his readers and former students with a deeper, more inclusive, interconnected sense of our planet.
His most recent book is Human Origins: How diet, climate and landscape shaped us, which provides a narrative of where, when and how our species may have evolved.
It covers our deep (or ‘big’) history from the big bang to the present with projections into the future and includes new perspectives based on the latest evidence from southern Africa.
Ours is a complex, incomplete and highly contentious history, but one that can enlighten us as to who we are and where we might be headed, if we heed the markers.
Howard’s present venture as co-owner of a specialized tour company – Aah Afrika – harnesses his previous experience in tourism and knowledge in conservation, to say nothing of his early career in geology.
Working in conjunction with Prof. Lee Berger of Wits University, he developes itineraries and guide narratives for exclusive palaeo-safaris within The Cradle of Humankind, a World Heritage Site.
To be personally escorted on a fossil tours in the Cradle by a top rated, multi-talented guide is an experience of a lifetime.
Howard began his career path as a mining engineer with Anglo American Corporation, becoming a specialist guide at Gold Mine Museum Crown Mines, telling the history of Johannesburg that’s rooted in the mineral wealth of South Africa.
Subsequent involvement with The Wilderness Leadership School, starting as a trainee field guide and ending as the provincial chair, served as a solid basis for his break-away move into wildlife tourism.
He co-founded Conservation Corporation where he and his partners initiated the first public/private partnership with the SA National Parks Board for an operating lease in the Kruger National Park, where they developed luxury safari lodges.
The brand morphed into &Beyond, becoming the largest luxury safari operator in Africa.
After John’s early years at Cambridge and a PhD thesis entitled: “Follow the San’’, it does follow that his lifelong research interest in southern African has been in hunters and gatherers.
An emeritus professor of archaeology and a Fellow of the University of Cape Town, his distinguished research has been directed at understanding patterns of cultural variation and evolution of hunter gatherer settlements.
This has involved mapping, sampling, and excavation of sites across the landscape to reconstruct life histories and social relations, settlement choices, image making and resource use by our ancestors.
From engraved ostrich eggshells and bone tools to shell beads and the first evidence of drawing, you’ll hear about some of humanity’s earliest use of symbols, art and technological innovation, to say nothing of branding.
John’s distinguished research is directed at understanding patterns of cultural variation and evolution of hunter gatherer settlement in the Fynbos Biome of the Western Cape.
It involves mapping, sampling and excavation of sites across the landscape to reconstruct life histories and social relations, settlement choices, image making and resource use through the later Pleistocene and Holocene.
He’s a man of many causes, such as the Living Landscape Project in Clanwilliam
As to another cause, in an address to the opening of South Africa’s Parliament, former president Mbeki mentioned the letter he’d received from Parkington, regarding the protection of archaeological heritage sites!