Zimbabwean DR Frank Khumalo, who studied under a street lamp in Makokoba Township, Bulawayo, was appointed a leading scientist at the United States Department of Energy research laboratory in Iowa.
His colleagues at the laboratory are top physicists from prestigious universities and research centres the world over, says a letter from the editor of Iowa State University News.
“The main research interest of the laboratory is to find sources of energy other than oil. Dr Khumalo’s project is to design photovoltaic cells which can be recharged with solar energy,” the editor writes.
“Many people will remember that Dr Khumalo was the first black student to get a double first class honours degree (BSc) in physics, with mathematics, in August 1975 from the University of London.
“After being awarded the highly competitive Commonwealth Scholarship in August 1975, Dr Khumalo was invited to do a PhD in solid state physics at the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge University.
“Dr Khumalo obtained his PhD with flying colours. His thesis was found to be so highly original that it was classified as a gold medal-rated PhD by Trinity College – a remarkable achievement by any standard.”
“We, here, feel very honoured to have such a highly talented young man and we also feel his academic record is so impressive that you should let the people of Zimbabwe Rhodesia know about this physics genius.”
LESSONS FOR TODAY
Adversity brings out the best in us. Dr Khumalo did not let his poor upbringing prevent him from achieving his dream. He made sacrifices such as studying under a street lamp and he made it to the very top.
When presented with an opportunity, do not waste it. Make the most of it.
Most developing countries including Zimbabwe have been losing some of the brilliant minds to developed nations that offer better facilities and opportunities for those people to nurture their talent. This calls for the Government and the private sector to come on board with support systems for such highly talented individuals to ensure that they use their talent for the development of the country.
The country needs to recognise and serialise the achievements of its great minds so that it acts as a motivation for upcoming talents.
Dr Khumalo obtained O’ Levels at Mpopoma Secondary School, Bulawayo, in 1968 and then A’ Levels in physics, chemistry and mathematics at Fletcher High School, Gwelo.