Professor Thebe Medupe is one of the foremost astronomers in South Africa and Africa. In 2002 he obtained his PhD in astrophysics from the University of Cape Town (UCT) –becoming one of South Africa's first black astronomers. His interest in astronomy was initially sparked by the passing of Halley's Comet, a large “dirty snowball” passing the earth on its orbit around the sun. After lecturing at UCT for five years, Medupe decided to return to Mafikeng to try to get more African students involved in astronomy through the National Astrophysics and Space Science Programme (NASSP). In 2002 Medupe was the presenter of the film Cosmic Africa, made by Craig and Damon Foster (makers of the award winning film The Great Dance).The film follows Medupe as he travels to different communities in Africa listening to their stories about the stars and sharing his scientific knowledge of the stars with them. Professor Medupe is currently a lecturer at North-West University and the head of the Timbuktu Science Project. The project's aim is to search for scientific knowledge in ancient manuscripts discovered in the ancient Malian city of Timbuktu.
Dr Samson Khene
Dr Khene is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Chemistry at Rhodes University. He has a background in Physical Chemistry and his research interests are in phthalocyanine chemistry, spectroscopy, nonlinear optics and electrochemistry. He currently holds a Bachelor of Science degree, Bachelor of Science (Hons), Master of Science and a PhD in Physical Chemistry degree. He also holds two teaching qualifications in Higher Education, which include a Postgraduate Diploma in Higher Education (PGDHE) and the Strengthening Doctoral Supervision Course (NUFFIC). Dr Khene is a JSPS (Japan Society for Promotion of Science) HOPE fellow and Africa Science Leadership Program (ASLP) fellow. Dr Khene also has an interest in supporting the development of upcoming African researchers, and hence also invests his time in organising Rhodes University Science Dialogues for the promotion of science in society.