Speech Delivered By Takalani Nemaungani, Chief Director: Astronomy, Department of Science and Innovation at the Hand‐over Ceremony of the IAU General Assembly in Busan, on 11 August 2022

Sanibonani – it means Hello in Zulu, one of the most spoken languages in South Africa !!


 The IAU President, Debra Elmegreen


The IAU President Elect, Willy Benz


The IAU General Secretary, Jose Miguel Espinosa


IAU Officers and Executive Committee Members


Prof. Hyesung Kang, Chair of the IAUGA 2022 National Organizing Committee


All members of the global astronomy community





It is a great honour and privilege for me to receive the IAU flag on behalf of South Africa and the entire African community, to be the host of the 2024 IAU General Assembly to be held in Cape Town, our beautiful mother city.  I accept this flag as a symbol of our commitment to bringing the astronomy world to Africa in 2024 and I therefore pledge that we will do our best to make sure that it would be a highly successful event that would exceed expectations.


The Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Mzimande, whom I represent here today, sends you his warmest greetings and he has already committed resources and support for this event to be a success. The hosting of the GA 2024 will be supported by the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), represented here by myself and hosted by the National Research Foundation represented here by its Deputy CEO, Dr Clifford Nxomani, and organised through the National Organising Committee (NOC) for the

2024 meeting, represented here by Dr Vanessa McBride in partnership with the African Astronomical Society (AfAS) represented here by its President, Prof Thebe Medupe. We also have members of the NOC for the GA2024 present here together with the delegates from Africa.


In the last two weeks we have enjoyed rich scientific interactions, Korean hospitality and culture, and the beautiful natural heritage that Busan and Korea had on offer under the theme “Astronomy for All”.    I must say that this theme has been fulfilled in the true sense of the word that has inclusivity,  as the GA will be hosted for the first time on the African continent in 2024 in more than 100 years of the existence of the IAU.


Astronomy is not a subject reserved for a few at academic institutions. The curiosity sparked in human beings by the night sky is evident in all cultures of the world. The sky belongs to no one yet it also belongs to everyone. Over time our ancestors have sought to find meaning in the heavens above. Today our telescopes, instrumentation and techniques are a legacy to the curious minds that came before us. We strive to find answers to some of humanity’s greatest questions. Where did we come from? Where are we going? Is there life outside planet earth? These are fundamental questions that need to be answered by all of us working together in this mysterious universe to  expand the limits of both human capabilities and understanding.


In this global quest for knowledge, Africa is positioning itself as a hub for astronomy sciences and facilities through projects like the Southern African Large Telescope (or SALT) and the MeerKAT  radio  telescope  that will form part of the global  Square  Kilometre  Array  (SKA) project, and the High Energy Stereoscopic System (or HESS) in Namibia, and several other telescopes across Africa. More and more, countries across the African continent are growing their scientific communities, not just in Astronomy, but across all fields. The IAU General Assembly in 2024 will be a time to celebrate Astronomy in Africa. A time to celebrate Science in Africa. A time to celebrate the incredible achievements of African students, teachers, researchers – a continent of diverse, energetic and innovative people.


The host city of Cape Town is well known throughout the world as an attractive tourist destination, boasting not only amazing natural wonders such as mountains, beaches and wildlife, but also important historical sites such as Robben Island, where the late Nelson Mandela spent so much of his life before emerging as one of the most inspirational and influential figures in the world.


We feel privileged and humbled that South Africa has been given the singular honour of being the African host country. We will strive for excellence in our hosting of the General Assembly while at the same time ensuring that the event leaves a lasting legacy to all our people. May


the rewards brought by the IAU General Assembly prove that the long wait for its arrival on


African soil has been worth it.


Ke Nako. It’s time.” Come see for yourself how we are contributing to the global astronomy endeavour, and join us through research and other collaborations, as we together reach for the stars!


Asante Sana – it means Thank You in Swahili, one of the most spoken languages in Africa.


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