At just 27 years of age, Siya Xuza’s name is already being mentioned among the continent’s brightest minds. The South African is a Harvard-educated engineer known for inventing a homemade rocket fuel.
Xuza’s passion for science was ignited when he saw a helicopter flying across his township, Mthata. He became curious about what made things fly, and as the need to know grew, he turned his mother’s kitchen into a lab, where he began experimenting with rocket fuels. This resulted in a science project that saw him create a cheaper and safer rocket fuel. The invention earned him a gold medal at the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair in the United States.
His achievement inspired Nasa-affiliated Lincoln Laboratory to name a minor planet in his honour, which is known as Siyaxuza, found near the Jupiter asteroid belt.