Maarten’s “African Plate” was a class that students could not wait to attend. Maarten had a way of sharing knowledge that was desperately exciting and ignited the imagination. If you attended these classes you realised that Africa, as a continent, as a word, as an idea was not being taken seriously enough by social scientists, natural scientists and earth scientists alike. And thus, his trans-disciplinary perspective became apparent. With him, everything was inherently connected, and should be woven together, especially within the structures of the university, ultimately emanating into the realm of government and civil society. 

“What do we know about Africa?” “What is Africa?” “How can these questions be answered?” His inquisition would often be rhetorical, but his message was clear, there are mysteries traversing Africa’s length and breadth, within the depth of its crust, and across billions of years, that would provide not only fantastical and magical stories, but also hard facts that could better inform a continent. Maarten saw a new way forward. He would walk into the commons room and engage in deep conversation with his students about it, encourage them to ask the right questions. He joined forces with Dr John Anderson to form the Africa Alive Corridors, which was launched by UNESCO in 2008 in Dar es-Salaam and endorsed by Nelson Mandela. This new idea embraced the transdisciplinary, multidimensionality of Africa. This incredibly and unique enterprise gives testament to the depth of Maarten’s mind. He recognised that we, the African people, are the building blocks of a new era, informed by 4 billion years of history, combined with the minds of exceptional leaders, like Nelson Mandela, Wangari Maathai, and many more, who have, in their combined efforts, lead us to this moment. Leaders, poets, song writers, earth scientists, and community members alike, have written poetry, told stories, sang songs, and filled book after book, that if coalesed into a single concept, or perhaps a multitude of concepts, might be embraced by “the children of today’s world and the children of tomorrow’s world” who together can reduce the suffering of all human-, animal- and plant- kind. 

Maarten de Wit and all the other visionaries of yesterday’s world have shown us new potentialities by their unique experiences on a continent in constant flux with itself and the rest of the world. In one way or another, they have experienced the horrors of a continent troubled by its past, yet they have also seen the endless beauty and possibilities for an African cosmodern future. The Africa Alive Corridors forms part of this vision, by uniting the sciences with the humanities, as “…two sides of the same stick”. Now, more than ever we must work harder and smarter to fulfill the dreams of yesterday’s visionaries.