Siyabulela Lethuxolo Xuza is South Africa’s wizzard
Updated: Apr 1
Even NASA gave him a personal guided tour of their accommodations AND is the youngest affiliate of the Africa 2.0 energy advisory panel. The pan-African organization encompasses Africa’s brightest minds and is dedicated to pursuing supportable resolutions to challenges confronted by Africans. Xuza is now working on transforming households into power plants that capture the energy of the sun during the day and stock some of it in fuel cells, for use at night.
“I was chasing the roar of a Cessna plane dropping election pamphlets over Mthatha, my South African township. It was 1994, the first year of a new democracy in my country, and the sight of that technological marvel ignited in me a curiosity for science and a passion for using technology to engineer an African renaissance, ” Xusa described the moment that sparked his lifelong passion for science.
His mother’s kitchen quickly developed into the place for his experiments; a hub for mutations of jet and rocket fuel. However, due to a sticky incident with a too-hot stove, the informal laboratory was moved to the garage.
Xuza wasn’t deterred, and over the next few years, he continued to work on the project, which culminated in the successful launch of a real home-built rocket, the Phoenix. The Phoenix attained a final height of over a kilometre earning him the junior South African amateur high-powered altitude record. The rocket was propelled by Xuza’s own invention, a cheaper, safer type of rocket fuel, which became the subject of a project titled African Space: Fuelling Africa’s quest to space. In 2006 Xusa earned himself a gold medal in the Eskom National Science Expo as well as a trip to the Nobel Prize ceremony in Sweden and he was able to fortunately present his work to the Swedish king and queen. As part of team South Africa, the same project took him to the 58th Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Here the project was entered in the energy and transport category and walked away with victory. Xuza also received the honour of having a celestial body named after him by the MIT Lincoln Laboratory. The minor planet 23182 Siyaxuza circles the solar system in the main asteroid belt near Jupiter and takes 4.01 years to complete a single orbit. It was discovered by Xusa in July 2000.
Xuza has garnered numerous other accolades, including a fellowship in 2010 of the African Leadership Network, and in 2011 he was made a fellow of the international student-run Kairos Society. Membership to this global body is by invitation only.
I am very excited at how the African engineering education sector will benefit tremendously through the achievements accomplished by Xusa.