We’re used to Mail & Guardian reporters winning awards. But it’s not everyday a fossil gets named after one.
M&G reporter Karabo Keepile is the namesake of the 1,9 million-year-old Australopithecus sediba — the recent paleontological find at the Cradle of Humankind that has caused waves in science circles.
Her sister, Omphemetse Keepile, was the winner of the competition to name the hominid — a young boy at the time of his death — which was found alongside a female of about 30.
Omphemetse is a matric student at St Mary’s School for Girls in Waverley, Johannesburg.
Her submission was chosen from over 15 000 entries by South African youngsters.
Omphemetse chose her sister’s name because: “it means ‘answer’ in seTswana,” Karabo said.
The scholar said the name suggested that answers were present and “more would follow”, thanks to the paleontological find.
Karabo is a unisex name, which can be given to either a boy or a girl.
We asked Karabo (24) what it felt like to have her name go down in the history books.
- M&G:How do you look so good for your age?
Karabo Keepile: Must be the dolomitic sediment Professor Berger said preserved me.
- M&G: Seriously though … are you going to steal some of your sister’s prize money?
KK: Definitely not. She came up with the name and the motivation, so it’s all hers. She deserves it.
- M&G: How much did she get anyway?
KK: R100 000 in total. R25 000 goes to her school and the rest is for her education.
- M&G: Wow, that’s a lot. Did you ever think your name was worth that much?
- KK: Well, no.
- M&G: How has your life changed now that you’re also a famous fossil?
- KK: People recognise me all the time [laughs].
- M&G: Do you know Mrs Ples?
- M&G: Not personally, I’m afraid.
Karabo Keepile has worked at the M&G since 2009. Follow her on Twitter.