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Dr Bernie Fanaroff

The Order of Mapungubwe in

Dr Bernie Fanaroff Awarded for:
His excellent contribution to astronomy and dedication in putting South Africa on the map with the SKA Project. He is a thinker, an academic, a trade unionist and an exceptional public servant.

Profile of Dr Bernie Fanaroff

Dr Bernie Fanaroff is a man who is not afraid of work. He studied physics at the University of the Witwatersrand and obtained his PhD degree at Cambridge University in Radio Astronomy.

He has been the Deputy Director-General in The Office of former President Nelson Mandela, the Head of The Office for the Reconstruction and Development Programme, the Deputy Director-General of the Department of Safety and Security, the Chair of the Integrated Justice System Board and the Steering Committee for Border Control, and the Project Director of South Africa’s Square Kilometre Array (SKA) bid and the construction of the Karoo Array Telescope.

He served in all these positions with the single focus of making South Africa stand out in the global community. As a radio astronomer, Fanaroff has made two major international contributions to the science. One, in 1974, was a breakthrough in the classification of radio galaxies with a British astronomer, Julia Riley. It is called the Fanaroff-Riley classification and is renowned among astronomers. His second major international contribution to the science was leading the team that landed the biggest global scientific project in Africa, the SKA. In addition, he is also leading the way in the construction of the Karoo Array Telescope.

After completing his PhD in 1974, Fanaroff worked as an astronomer for two years. Upon seeing the injustices against workers, he dedicated the next 19 years of his life as an organiser, negotiator and national secretary for the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa. He went on to serve as a government official, beginning in 1994.