Dr Jane Goodall ‘carries’ Madiba with her

2014-02-08 11:02

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“I find hope in people who don’t give up, just like Nelson Mandela.”

This is how renowned primatologist and anthrologist Dr Jane Goodall explains her ability to spend 300 days of the year travelling the world and raising awareness about her conservation work – all at the age of 79.

“I talk about him (Mandela) in nearly every lecture. In fact, I often carry with me a limestone from Robben Island to remind me of his indomitable human spirit. I wish he was alive,” she told guests who arrived in their numbers to hear her give a lecture in Joburg last night.

Goodall was in South Africa this week to hold a series of free lectures at the University of Cape Town and at Wits University. The lectures where held in the hopes of raising funds for the Jane Goodall Institute South Africa (JGISA), which aims to advance “the power of individuals to improve the environment for all living things”.

“We can all do something to make the world we live in a better place,” she said.

Among Goodall’s projects is the youth programme, Roots and Shoots – “a direct response to finding that young people all round the world were simply not having so much hope in the future”. The programme aims to teach young people about conservation through various projects and campaigns.

Goodall, who rose to fame for her studies of wild chimpanzees in Africa over the past five decades, spoke with vigour during the one-hour lecture – without the help of slides. She carried with her a stuffed animal in the shape of a monkey, which she introduced as “Mr H”.

“This is Mr H. He is 29 years old and he has been to 60 countries,” she said, gleefully.

She received the monkey as a birthday gift from a blind magician, Gary Horn. Horn had lost his eyesight at the age of 21 years but was determined to become a magician regardless of the sceptics. Goodall said the monkey reminded her never to give up no matter the obstacles because Horn didn’t give up on his dream.

“Don’t ever let people tell you something isn’t true or can’t be done. Explore it and examine it for yourself,” she said.

She encouraged the audience to work together in creating a better environment through making small changes. “We’re trying to grow a family of man. We can’t do it alone. We need to get together to join hands around the world so we can create change.”

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