Medupe sheds new light on old stars

11 July 2002
UCT alumnus and astrologer at the South African Astronomical Observatory, Thebe Medupe, is starring in a unique feature length documentary film, Cosmic Africa, one that both explores and sheds new light on traditional African astronomy and, in turn, global understanding of the world's oldest science.

Cosmic Africa's Project Director, Anne Rogers, said the documentary, with its "timeless, universal appeal", captured a "remarkable personal journey" for the UCT-trained astronomer. Thebe completed his BSc Master's degree at the University and registered for a PhD in 2001.

Rogers and partner Carina Rubin have been working at this project for several years, initially with funding from the Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology (DACST).

Cosmic Africa not only reveals an African dimension to the history and legends of the cosmos, but the film has the potential to highlight initiatives to raise public awareness around science, in much the same way Mark Shuttleworth's flight into space did. Importantly, the documentary also provides a valuable opportunity to document indigenous knowledge systems.

The producers aim to have the finished product by October this year. The co-production partners are Cosmos Studios (Carl Sagan Productions). According to Rogers, Ann Druyan, the Studios' Chief Executive Officer, "bought into visionary nature" of the project. (Druyan was the late Dr Sagan's wife) "After receiving partial development capital from Cosmos Studios we have now completed all of our principal photography. We have filmed in Namibia, Mali and Egypt as well as in South Africa (Sutherland)."

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