Africa Day Message 2022: Commitment to the Africa we want

Africans across the world celebrate Africa Day on this day, 25 May, which marks the founding of the Organisation of African Unity in 1963, known today as the African Union. The African Astronomical Society (AfAS) is joining the other African countries and institutions in celebrating Africa Day. As a continent, this day provides an annual opportunity to reflect on the challenges and achievements of Africa as well as its people. While political freedom from colonial powers and self-determination have been achieved, the struggle continues. We still face a host of other challenges that require concerted efforts and sustainable approaches. We have the human and intellectual potential to shape a bright future for our continent.

Africa is the cradle of humankind, and among our many natural resources, we live in a geographically advantageous location for astronomy. Africa has some of the darkest night skies in the world. Our skies hold keys to answering some of the biggest questions in astronomy and have attracted key projects in astronomy that will boost the continent’s scientific profile, putting Africa on the map. These include projects like the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT), the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) and the African VLBI Network (AVN), which will span across various African countries and is a symbol of science linking us as Africans, the Africa Millimetre Telescope (AMT), and other upcoming telescopes. It is an exciting time for the growth of astronomical sciences in Africa in a new era with developments such as the Entoto Observatory in Ethiopia and the Oukaïmeden Observatory in Morocco. The first General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) on African soil will be in 2024 in Cape Town, and we will utilise this opportunity to bring all African astronomers together to build a stronger science community.

AfAS is dedicated to building an integrated and productive astronomy community for Africa, and this can be done only by forging greater unity among all our scientists, students, and teachers. Because when Africa prospers, we all benefit. Africa has contributed to the world through our vast natural resources. We have more to offer; Africa has the youngest population in the world, and with our youthful enthusiasm and drive, the possibilities are endless. The future of Africa is indeed bright. The AfAS-2022 General Assembly was a symbol of a maturing organisation, entering the new dawn with renewed commitment to support the development of astronomy in every country on our beautiful continent.

We must continue to strive for a stronger and more compassionate community and the hope for a better future for all members of AfAS and the human race and a better Africa for a better world.

Thebe Medupe

President: The African Astronomical Society (AfAS)

North-West University (South Africa)