Premier Modise pays tribute to Professor Tobias of the Taung skull
9 Jun 2012The people of the North West Province will always remember the legendary Professor Phillip Valentine Tobias for his contribution towards science, humanity and our understanding of man’s ancient ancestry, North West Premier Mme Thandi Modise said on the eve of his funeral.
“We will always treasure our memory of him as an intellectual giant, a revered teacher, prolific publisher and servant of humanity who gave more of himself. South Africa and in particular those of the North West Province and Taung will forever remain indebted to Professor Tobias for being instrumental in taking forward the research started by Professor Raymond Dart, who was famous for his discovery of what became known as the Taung Skull in 1924,” said Premier Modise in paying tribute to Professor Tobias.
The 86 year-old Tobias battled with illness for a few months before he finally succumbed in hospital on Thursday, the day on which World Environment Day was celebrated in the North West Province with signing of UNESCO endorsements for the Magaliesberg Biosphere Project to be recognised as a world heritage site.
South Africa's foremost paleoanthropologist and a full professor since the 1950's, Tobias had during his illustrious career also successfully campaigned for the Sterkfontein Caves to be proclaimed a World Heritage site.
As a result of his invaluable contribution, the skull is now regarded as belonging to a child of the humanoid Australopithecus Africanus genus, a new species then and a new link in the chain which ends with modern humankind - Homo sapiens.
The three-time Nobel Prize nominee Tobias was the recipient of many awards and honours, including honorary degrees from the universities of Pennsylvania, Cambridge, California, Natal, Cape Town, Unisa, Durban-Westville, Western Ontario, Alta, Guelph, and the Witwatersrand.
Tobias was awarded the Walter Sisulu Special Contribution Award in 2007 during the National Orders Awards presented by former President Thabo Mbeki.
From his early days when he was elected President of the non-racial National Union of South African Students (NUSAS), Tobias and a prominent political activist, who campaigned against racism and apartheid.
Lesiba Moses Kgwele, Spokesperson
Cell: 083 629 1987
Tel: 018 388 3705
Fax: 086 620 4802
Issued by: North West Office of the Premier
9 Jun 2012
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