Goodbye Cape Town

Of course you will all be aware of the death of Nelson Mandela, affectionately named Tata Madiba in South Africa, (Tata meaning “father” in Xhosa and Madiba being the name of the clan of which he was a member). UCT marked the occasion by holding a ceremony in his honour. Together we gathered in quiet reflection to listen to speeches detailing his life. The ceremony ended with the South African National Anthem which is a beautiful song with lyrics from the five most widely spoken of the eleven official South African languages.

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Amongst countless other events a memorial service was held in his honour in Johannesburg on the 10th of December. Numerous heads of state from various regions around the world descended on to South Africa to pay their respects. Of all the speakers in the service I particularly enjoyed Barack Obama’s speech, in it he said, “It took a man like Madiba to free not just the prisoner, but the jailer as well…to teach that reconciliation is not a matter of ignoring a cruel past, but a means of confronting it with inclusion and generosity and truth.” Mandela endured 27 years of imprisonment before his release in 1990 yet still, after having lost so much he was willing to forgive his oppressors and look to the future. In 2003 Mandela reminisced “We were expected to destroy one another and ourselves collectively in the worst racial conflagration. Instead, we as a people chose the path of negotiation, compromise and peaceful settlement. Instead of hatred and revenge we chose reconciliation and nation-building.” We must all attempt to follow his example in our daily lives.

Today is my last day in Cape Town before heading home to spend Christmas in the UK with my family. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here! I am happy to report that my last few months at H3-D were fruitful in that I finally synthesized an active compound! In the new year my colleagues will work to expand the series in the hope of optimising the hit into a lead molecule. Our plan is to perform an array to scope out the SAR. To assist, I have designed an array and ordered the necessary reagents to facilitate a speedy synthesis. Aside from synthesis, in line with my role at GSK I have also hi-lighted the positive aspects of running a FaSSIF solubility screen. The pharmacology team are now in the process of validating the assay for use not only on MMV cpds but also compounds synthesized throughout H3-D, (there is also an active TB project).  

Last week, as a farewell gathering, I invited my friends from the department to join me on a sunset pirate ship cruise. The voyage was lots of fun and afforded stunning views of the city set against Table Mountain.

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On my second to last day in Cape Town I finally got around to hiking up Table Mountain. We were blessed with a beautiful day, the sky was blue allowing us to see for miles, it is a memory that I will cherish! I struggle to convey just how thankful I am to have made such lovely friends out here, their warmth has made Cape Town a home from home for me, I do not doubt that we will remain friends for years to come.

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