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Rastaman Genomics


In the spirit of Charles Darwin’s birthday last February, Mark Pallen, a professor of microbial genomics at the University of Birmingham Medical School in the UK, and his colleague Dominic White, a Jamaican-born scientist, put some of the writings of Darwin to music — dub reggae, to be precise. The duo, known as the Genomic Dub Collective, wrote and recorded 12 songs; we reprint the musicians’ introduction and part of the lyrics to track 1 here. The tune for track 1 (snippets of the music can be heard on incorporates an electronic version of Also Sprach Zarathustra, by Richard Strauss, to signal the publication of the Origin of Species as a decisive moment in the history of science.


Track 1: Preface


Like Marcus Garvey seh

(As Marcus Garvey has said)

“A people without knowledge of their history is like a tree without roots.”


Mek we science people talk bout the roots a we subject

(Let us scientists talk about the roots of our subject)


An’ the roots a we subject are Charles Darwin and the Origin of Species.

(And the roots of our subject are Charles Darwin and the Origin of Species.)


Mek we celebrate Darwin in a Jamaican stylee

(Let us celebrate Darwin in a Jamaican style)


Inna reggae roots stylee

(In a reggae roots style)


“I am almost convinced that species are not immutable — it’s like confessing a murder”

Murder, Murder, Murder!


“In September 1858 I set out to prepare a volume on the transmutation of specie[s], but was often interrupted by ill-health.”

“It cost me t[h]irteen month[s] and ten day[s] hard labour.”

“there is no doubt: de chief work of mi life”

(There is no doubt: the chief work of my life)


November 24th 1859, Publication inna London, Inglan, of the Origin of Species by Natural Selection, by Charles Robert Darwin

(November 24th 1859, Publication in London, England, of the Origin of Species by Natural Selection, by Charles Robert Darwin)

Murder, Murder, Murder!


The bes’ idea anyone ever did have

(The best idea anyone ever had)


Origin of Species 1859, Origin of Species 1859


Nevah were so many fac’ explain by so few assumption

(Never were so many facts explained by so few assumptions)


Dub it up for Charles Robert Darwin, 1809-1882


Darwin big, Darwin lickle, Darwin talawa

Darwin big, Darwin lickle, Darwin talawa

(Darwin big, Darwin little, Darwin feisty/not to be underestimated/strong/sturdy)

Music samples, additional lyrics, background on artists

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