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25th January 2017

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  • The ACCESS Habitable Planet Programme lost one of it's brightest stars over the Christmas holidays: Dumisani Ndaba. On the 18th January 2017 a ceremony was held at the CSIR in Cape Town to honour Dumisani's work in the HPW programme and to present our new Dumisani Ndaba Award. The "DNA" will be presented annually to a student “who has, like Dumisani himself, make an exceptional contribution to the Habitable Planet Programme over a prolonged period of time."

    To give some context to why we chose to dedicate an award to Dumi, we should start by saying that he was nothing short of a legend in the HPW programme. Having joined as a participant in 2011 he has, in the succeeding years, contributed to the programme in almost every conceivable capacity: lecturing, online teaching, schools outreach and more. Mostly recently he was present at the 2016 winter workshop at the Vaal University of Technology, accompanying the learners from the schools project he helped run, to meet the latest’s group of HPW “planeteers”. Dumisani was also one of the nicest guys you could hope to meet, who cared deeply about helping other young South Africans succeed.

    Dumisani met Prof. George Philander, Princeton Professor and the ACCESS founding director, at several ACCESS events through the years he was involved. Prof Philander sent a message to remind us that “We can find solace in knowing that Dumisani will continue to be with us because his considerable contributions will always be evident in the success of the Habitable Planet Workshops. Each Planeteer is the beneficiary of Dumisani's efforts, and can find inspiration in what he accomplished. We have to keep that spirit alive”.

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    Photos from the days event. Top left: Thandeka Khati speaks about Dumisani. Top right: Dr Carl Palmer presents to the assembled group about Dumisani's involvement in HPW. Bottom left: Prof. Mike Lucas autographs his book on climate change as part of this year's DNA prize. Bottom right: Mr Richard Ndaba and 2017 DNA prize winner Claude Moshobane. 

    The purpose of the DNA is to do exactly that. The first DNA prize was present to Mr Claude Moshobane by Mr Richard Ndaba, Dumisani's father (see photograph). Claude was presented the award following an impressive record of serving the HPW programme, which includes lecturing at several HPW workshops (including in Cape Town, Free State and Gauteng), rating as the top student lecturer at two workshops and, most of all, running a mini-HPW schools programme four years in a row (no one else is yet to manage two years).

    The Dumisani Ndaba memorial service and first DNA award

    The Dumisani Ndaba memorial service saw the first DNA presented to Claude Moshobane (2nd from left) by Dumisani's father, Richard Ndaba (far left). Also picture are Dumisani's Mother and Sister, along with Dr Carl Palmer (ACCESS Education and Training Manager).

    The award was generously funded thanks to a group from Cape Town undertaking a sponsored event to raise money to support it. The group, comprised of Keith & Carl Palmer as well as Leon Jacobs and Zoleka Filander, climbed all three of Cape Town's Mountains in a day (Lion's Head, Table Mountain and Devil's Peak). In addition to the funding the award itself for students already on the programme, the money they raised will be used to help support new students to attend the HPWs in future. You can still donate retrospectively if you wish, just click here. ACCESS and the HPW community wish to thank the group for their valiant efforts.

    The ceremony was attended by around 80 planeteers past and present. From the feedback we have received it is clear that Dumi will continue to inspire HPW students for many years to come.