Country mourns SA academic

Phillip Tobias dedicated his life to the study of man and human ancestry.

Phillip Tobias dedicated his life to the study of man and human ancestry.

JOHANNESBURG - President Jacob Zuma on Friday said that Phillip Tobias demystified complex science with a tinge of humour.

Zuma paid tribute to the renowned academic who passed away in Johannesburg on Thursday after a long illness.

The 86-year-old dedicated his life to the study of man and human ancestry at Wits University and the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site.

Zuma said South Africa owed Tobias gratitude for his efforts to have the remains of Saartjie Bartman returned to this country from Paris, where they were exhibited as ethnological and sexual curiosities during the 19th century.

The leading South African palaeo-anthropologist contributed to research in the fields of genetics from anatomical studies to palaeo-anthropology.

Wits spokesperson Shirona Patel listed his achievements saying he had received many awards and honours.

These included honorary degrees from the universities of Pennsylvania, Cambridge, California, Natal, Cape Town, South Africa, Durban-Westville, Western Ontario, Alta, Guelph, and the Witwatersrand.