Inspiring people to re-imagine their relationship to their world
  • Adopts a unique approach to programmes that acknowledges the importance of inner work and personal growth alongside ecological awareness as a vehicle for truly sustainable social transformation.
  • Facilitates initiatives that draw on indigenous knowledge systems, teachings and practices with a focus on rekindling a connection to the natural world.
  • Cultivates a culture of belonging through community building initiatives that bring youth and elders together to exchange perspectives and stories, practices and teachings.
  • Advocates principles of reciprocity and attentiveness to nature as one of the most transformative and long-lasting forms of cultural and environmental education.
A place where community, conservation and natural law can co exist

Sustainable Together Exhibition

The Sustainable Together Exhibition and Celebration was opened on November 12th to a feast of images, voices, and visibility of the Ekhupumleni community’s rich heritage, of their connection to stories of healing, vivid memories of connection to the land and food, and sustainability that carried the origins and hidden histories of lineages and ancestors, of those who came before.

The element of earth was brought into the venue as an installation to remind us of our connections. It became a central piece for the exhibition and an integral part of bringing the community together through a simple ritual of taking a handful of earth and adding it to a mound that already held stories of loss, separation, seeds of unity and planting, and a manifesto that speaks to growing together.

The images alone called forth a moving feast that mobilized a community to reflect on the value of themselves where separation and apartheid had ingrained the not-enough-ness of a rich culture steeped in deep self-worth, but stripped by an all too familiar narrative of spiritual destruction: “You don’t belong”. Co -created by the residents of Ekuphumleni (“Our place of rest”) and Return To Origin, the exhibition accompanied by a sound recording that echoed the haunting stories of the past, the hope in the present and the re-imagination of a future in sustainability that included respect, love, well-being and healing. We were transported into a world that this community knows only too well. A return to the land, and the soil to plant seeds of inspiration is where the magic lies, and from there everything is possible. As one participant says: “Then we have everything we need”. Please go to our projects page to find the stunning images by Ndiphiwe Kwakweni, his first exhibition and the beautiful sound installation by Kuhle Ngqezana.

Mbali Marais - Founder Return To Origin

Read More

Leadership Program

"To lead is to bring my gifts to the world and to inspire others to do the same." - Angelique Michaels, RTO Graduate Leader

Meet our Graduated Leaders

Return to Origin's voice for the next generation

A rites of passage must be marked with a ceremony witnessed by the community.

These young men and women have completed a 3 year program in returning to their origin.  Through deep nature connection, rigorous inner work, reflection and creative projects they have received direct hands on lived experience essential to Indigenous Knowledge Leadership Programs.

They have tracked with the Khomani San Bushmen, walked the Umfolozi trail, studied san rock paintings with Dr Jeanette deacon, Craig Foster and Leon Lewis has worked with them as a guide to their original signature and Anna Breytenbach provided animal communication training.

They have served underserved communities around Cape Town through our Guardians for Nature program, providing day long trainings to reconnect young people to nature.  Through Return to Origin's Trees for Tomorrow project they have along with the community planted nearly a 100 trees.  We have witnessed unique transformation when inner and outer work are a parallel process often overlooked by most leadership programs. 

We celebrate the next steps of their journey.

Read More


“A sustainable civilization can only exist if reciprocity remains a core value.”
– Theodore Richards.

Where does your investment go?

Builds sustainable systems, and healthy communities, where the issue of well-being and self-worth are at the heart of our project designs.

Drawing on indigenous knowledge systems, with a focus on cultivating a connection to the land and nature we offer powerful transformative and long-lasting forms of cultural and environmental education often omitted in leadership programs.

Assists our leaders to give back to the next generations,  establishing a reciprocity where an understanding of our rich heritage and legacy is deeply rooted.  Guardians for Nature Project

Invitation to Collaborate - we welcome your collaboration opportunities.
Please contact us:

Copyright © 2022 Return to Origin | All Rights Reserved
 Powered by ERC Design
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram