Johannesburg - Former president FW de Klerk on Tuesday said he hopes his footprints will remind people of the long journey towards equality that still lies ahead.

“I hope my footprint will show that this is an unfinished journey for all of us in the pursuit of an equal life for our people,” he said at the Maropeng Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, where imprints of his feet were made in clay.

The 78-year-old former president spent most of the day touring the site and hearing about the history of the earth and evolution of humankind.

De Klerk said South Africans were lucky to have the site, north-west of Johannesburg, which holds one third of the world's fossils.

He spoke about the first Homo sapiens's ability to adapt to change.

De Klerk said they were able to imagine things that did not yet exist and changed their environment accordingly.

“That is when we left other species behind and became human. According to Charles Darwin, the success of a species is not defined by their relative strength or intelligence, but by their ability to adapt to change,” he said.

The ability to deal with change had been humankind's competitive advantage. The ability to manage change was still a critical factor for mankind.

“Twenty years ago we South Africans were able to manage one of the greatest change processes of the 20th century. We transformed our society from the divisions of the past to a new era based on non-racial constitutional democracy.

“Since then we have resumed our place in the international community. We have seen our economy grow by more than 200 percent,” he said.

Change was a never-ending process.

He said the country continued to face problems everyone needed to help solve.

“We must work together to improve our dysfunctional education system and ensure that everyone emerges from school or university with a decent education. We must take effective steps to promote equality since it is now clear that our present approach is not working. We must continue to work for a society based on our core constitutional values of equality, human dignity... non-racialism and non-sexism,” said De Klerk.

Sapa