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Thebe Medupe

Thebe Medupe




Thebe Rodney Medupe, born in 1973, is a prominent South African astrophysicist and the founding director of Astronomy Africa. He gained recognition for his involvement in the Cosmic Africa project, which aims to bridge the gap between science and mythology.Thebe Medupe, born in 1972, grew up in a rural village near Mmabatho, South Africa, where he was exposed to traditional Setswana stories under the African sky. Despite lacking modern amenities like electricity and television, he developed a fascination for science and mathematics during his high school years in Mmabatho. Inspired by Halley's comet, he built a telescope at the age of 13 and discovered the wonders of the Moon. His passion for astronomy led him to win a Science Olympiad at 17, earning him a trip to England where he visited the Greenwich Observatory, further fueling his scientific aspirations.

After completing his education at the University of Cape Town with degrees in physics and astrophysics, Medupe returned to his hometown with a mission to introduce young black South Africans to astronomy, challenging stereotypes about their interest in the field. He conducted research and initiated projects to engage black students in astronomy, contributing to the National Astrophysics and Space Science Programme.

Medupe's doctoral thesis focused on stellar atmospheres and pulsations, and he currently works as a researcher at the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) and as a lecturer at the University of Cape Town. He is passionate about African ethno-astronomy and endeavors to utilize it to attract more black students to science.

Additionally, Medupe is involved in cultural astronomy research, collaborating with Mali to digitize and analyze science documents from the Timbuktu Libraries. Through his multifaceted efforts, he aims to promote scientific interest and education among young black individuals in Africa and beyond.Medupe collaborated with filmmakers Craig and Damon Foster, renowned for their award-winning documentary "The Great Dance," along with Anne Rogers and Carina Rubin of Aland Pictures, to create a comprehensive portrayal of Africa's historical and contemporary relationship with the cosmos. Their project aimed to capture the diverse tapestry of African traditions and accomplishments concerning astronomy and cosmology.

To gather insights and experiences from various African regions, Medupe and the filmmakers embarked on a journey across South Africa, as well as to Mali, Egypt, and Namibia. Through interactions with local communities, they delved into the rich tapestry of African myths, practices, and scientific contributions related to the cosmos, while also sharing modern scientific perspectives.


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Date of Birth: 1973

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