Lisa Marie Rollins is a Ph.D. candidate in the African Diaspora Program in UC Berkeley's Department of African American Studies.
“Does science have a place in Africa, and does Africa have a place in science?” wonders Thebe Medupe, the young South African astronomer who serves as the heart and host of this exquisitely filmed testament to the allure of the stars. Born and raised under apartheid in a town with no electricity or running water, Medupe turned his fascination with the sky into a Ph.D. in astrophysics and a job running the largest telescope in the southern hemisphere. Cosmic Africa follows him as he views a partial solar eclipse with Ju/'hoansi villagers in Namibia, visits the cliff-dwelling Dogon people of Mali (whose rituals are determined by the stars' movements), and examines a Stonehenge-like structure in the Sahara that is possibly the world's earliest known solar observatory. Medupe's professed goal is to create a course in ethno-astronomy; Cosmic Africa would function as a perfect text, its shimmering images of the African landscape and night sky serving as luminous background to its meeting point of science, myth, and human curiosity.