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February 10, 2009

Lectures celebrate Darwin’s 200th birthday


In celebration of Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday and the 150th anniversary of the publication of The Origin of Species, the University of Cape Town (UCT) will be hosting a series of lectures on Darwin on February 12, 2009.

Darwin, world-renowned for the theory of evolution that he developed, was born on February 12 1809. When he was 27 years old, he visited the Cape during a five-year surveying voyage on the HMS Beagle. From May 31 to June 18 1836 Darwin explored the tip of Africa.

Darwin’s initial impressions of the Cape, recorded in his unpublished writings, are not glowing reports. Arriving at Simon’s Town, he commented, “The little town of Simon’s Bay offers but a cheerless aspect to the stranger.”


Darwin travelled to Cape Town along the western base of Table Mountain, becoming more generous in his praise of the Cape as he went.

One morning he walked to a nearby hill overlooking Cape Town and remarked, “It is laid out with the rectangular precision of a Spanish town.” He thought Wynberg especially striking with its “grand wall of mountains that gives the scene a degree of uncommon beauty”.

As Darwin’s theories became more widely accepted, his profound impact on the natural sciences was acknowledged. The extent of the celebration of the 200th anniversary of his birth around the globe is an indication of just how much the scientific world owes him.

UCT will play its part in these global celebrations by hosting three lectures on “Charles Darwin: Fact & Fiction, Realities & Myths”.

Dr Peter Bowler of Queen’s University in Belfast, Dr Mario de Gregorio of the University of L’Aquila and Dr Brian Warner of the University of Cape Town will share their knowledge with the public on February 12 in the Engineering Mall, Upper Campus in Menzies 9.

The lectures will be held at 10h00, 11h30 and 14h00. Anyone is welcome to attend free of charge. 

Information on Darwin’s unpublished works taken from Africa Genome Education Institute: http://www.africagenome.com.


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