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Bernie Fanaroff

I studied theoretical physics as an undergraduate at the University of the Witwatersrand from 1965, and was then lucky enough to be able to do a PhD in the radio astronomy group at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge. Not only did I thoroughly enjoy learning physics and doing research in radio astronomy, but it has stood me in good stead all my life. As a result of this training, I have always felt that nothing is too difficult to understand and that the analytical and creative thinking and the basic understanding of physical phenomena have allowed me to approach complex and difficult problems in development, government and business with confidence.

I worked as an astronomer for two years after graduating and returning to South Africa. I then joined the nascent trade union movement of African workers in South Africa, and spent the following nineteen years as a union organiser, negotiator and national secretary in the metal industry. My training in physics and astronomy made it relatively easy to understand the industry and its processes. I was also able to approach the difficult and intractable problems of organising workers in the face of strong state repression and intimidation with objectivity, systematically and logically (most of the time).

Quotes | by Dr. Radut