25 May 2021 – Dear colleagues and friends
Africa day – an opportunity to imagine!
We are three short years away from Africa hosting the General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union in 2024. This meeting, arguably one of the biggest on the astronomy conference calendar, will draw the attention of the global astronomy community to Africa. But, this meeting is more than a congress of astronomers. As the first General Assembly to be held on the continent of Africa, it is a statement of recognition of Africa’s voice in the global scientific endeavour.
What stories will this meeting tell? And what legacy will it leave? It is up to us, Africans, to imagine those stories and weave them into reality as we approach this astronomical event. This is an opportunity for cross-continental cooperation, education and public ownership of science. While we build on the work of those who have come before us, let’s also change practices that are outdated. This Africa day, let’s imagine what astronomy can do for the people of our continent, and make it happen!
A quote from the public and dynamic “Vision Document” on the event:
When the world descends onto African soil in 2024, what do we want them to experience? This is not simply an opportunity for astronomy, this is an opportunity to change the way the world sees Africa. When a continent so often looked down upon can lead the world in a field as technical and esoteric as astronomy, then we change perceptions, we challenge preconceptions, we shake unconscious biases – we make the world think differently about the potential of all people in the world to contribute to the human endeavour. 2024 is an opportunity like no other – it is up to us to maximise on that opportunity for the benefit of Africa and the world. We need to be “audacious” in our thinking and carry the continent forward to 2024 and beyond.