This week’s ‘African Voices’ on CNN International turns its attention to the next generation of African women leading by example and changing communities and countries by building inspiring businesses. This includes a profile of astronomer Susan Murabana who travels across Kenya, inspiring the next generation of women scientists along the away.
Murabana tells CNN how she first became interested in studying the stars when she was in school and attended a lecture on Africa’s traditional sky knowledge: “I was interested. I didn’t know … I didn’t think of astronomy as a traditional science. I always thought of it as a modern science or a western science and I thought that was a cool way to connect my people to that science.”
(TOP: Susan Murabana).
She now runs the company The Travelling Telescope with her husband, where they take Kenya’s largest telescope to schools and sites around the country. She explains: “The whole idea of our company is… getting as many people as possible to look through the telescope. It’s just because we know that the telescope has been around for over 400 years and yet very many people haven’t gotten a chance to look through it especially in this part of the world.”
Murabana’s work takes her to some of the most rural places in Kenya. As CNN films with her on such a trip, she says: “Most of the schools in this area do not get the same sort of exposure as the ones in Nairobi do and also we want to have a chance to enjoy the night sky which always is better because less light pollution or hardly light pollution.”
As well as teaching people about the stars, Murabana explains that she hopes to be a female role model: “I hope that I do mentor young girls by them seeing what I do. I try to work with them and also going back to schools with the young girls, I hope I mentor them. I hope I get them to think of them trying to do what they love… irrespective of their gender.”
Murabana is also raising funds to build Kenya’s first public observatory and planetarium. She tells ‘African Voices’ why this is important: “There’s a lot of development or technology that… has its beginnings from astronomy. Astronomy inventions. If you look at the CCDs in our phones, for example, the x-ray technology. I think it’s a nice way for me to try to get more young minds to appreciate science. Not necessarily get them into astronomy, but get them to think of science as a fun subject… To get them to try and invent or to think of inventions. To try and experiment and so that in the next few years it can have more home grown scientists. Scientists from Kenya or scientists from Africa. I think that way, it will be a way for us to develop and to have sustainable development.”