Written by Hadi Bah    PDF Print E-mail
Charles Darwin's theories incorporated observations of Sierra Leone traveler
News - Discover Sierra Leone

Charles Darwin, the English naturalist whose evolution of species theory changed the world of science, used the observations in Sierra Leone of William Winwood Reade in some of his works.

darwinIn 1869, a restless, great explorer wannabe and Oxford drop-out Reade was in Freetown contemplating which unknown places to explore when he happened to read Travels in the Timannee, Kooranko and Soolima Countries, in Western Africa a narrative of Alexander Gordon Laing's 1822 visit to Falaba. Becoming the first European to reach the source of the Niger River became Reade's objective after he read about Laing being thwarted from doing the same by Soolima Chief Asana Yira.

Reade's observations about attraction and marriage among the Sierra Leonean tribes he encountered were extensively used in Darwin's book on human evolution, Descent of Man (1871).

Reade visited Falaba twice in 1869 passing through Port Loko, Bumban, Cabalah (Kabala) and Kafogo, all in the Northern Province.

Reade's correspondence with Darwin while in Sierra Leone included whether Susu, Mandingo or Temne women could choose their own husbands. Scroll down to read some of Reade's letters from Sierra Leone here.

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