Sameera Moussa: Africa’s Nuclear Lady

Sameera Moussa: Africa's Nuclear Lady

In the twentieth century there were a great many scientists and physicists like Albert Einstein and Enrico Fermi whose names have been immortalized. When you think of that century, you can’t help but think of Sameera Moussa, the world’s unforgettable nuclear scientist of Egypt.

She was born in Egypt, Gharbia Governorate in 1917. She grew up to develop an unwavering interest for science.

But growing up as a child, Sameera lost her mother to cancer. She never got to enjoy mother-daughter relationship.

Sameera and her father, a political activist, moved to Cairo where she attended one of the oldest primary schools, Kaser El-Shok. When she completed primary school, her father had built Banat El-Ashraf high school where she continued education with ease.

Sameera was a sunny girl; she could easily pursue any course in the university. When she joined the Faculty of Science in Cairo University, greatness was set in motion. She engaged in X-ray radiation research discovering its effects on different materials. By 1939, Sameera had her first degree, a first class BSc in radiation.

Upon recommendation by Dr. Moustafa Mousharafa, the first dean of the faculty, she became a lecturer as well as becoming the first woman to obtain a PhD in atomic radiation in Cairo.

The death of her mother when she was a child bore a nuclear hole in her, and nothing could fill it. Sameera volunteered to help treat cancer patients at various hospitals. She gave her all with intensive research and coming up with a ground-breaking equation in England that would help break the atoms of cheap metals such as copper, leading to the invention of cheap nuclear bomb.

She advocated for peace organizing the international Atomic Energy for Peace Conference which brought together world-renowned scientists. At the event, issues of nuclear were discussed and committees were set up for the prevention of nuclear hazards. This was the time when Second World War was ongoing with

Hiroshima and Nagasaki all in the air like birds.

She was greatly influenced by other scientists and published several articles and also shed more light on the work of Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi in founding algebra.

Sammeera wasn’t just a scientist; she was a teacher at the school of Sciences, Cairo. Since her doctorate degree, she made herstory (alternative history) as the first assistant female professor of Cairo University becoming the first woman to hold a post of that nature.

She was vast in her field publishing works that talked about the history and structure of atom as well as the theories behind nuclear energy and the dangers of nuclear fission technology.

When Sameera Moussa said “I’ll make nuclear treatment as available and as cheap as Aspirin.” I’m pretty sure no body doubted.

As one of the beneficiaries of Fulbright Scholarship and despite not being a US citizen, she was invited to US top secret atomic facilities. She was offered to remain and work in the country but she turned it down and returned home.

“Egypt, my dear homeland, is waiting for me”.

Sameera Moussa Death

However, Sameera Moussa died instantly in a car accident in California on 5 August 1952 on her way to the airport coming to Africa. There was a great controversy about her death with countless index fingers pointing to Israel’s intelligence agency, Mossad, as people speculated it was an assassination in order to prevent the Egyptian government from getting hold of nuclear technology.

The car fell from 40 feet, and the driver wasn’t found.

She was honored posthumously by the Egyptian Army, and was awarded the Order of Science and Arts (First Class) by then-President Anwar Sadat in 1981.

Regardless, the doors remain open for more females in Egypt to carry the torch of innovation and to accomplish greater than Sameera would have.

By Elijah Christopher

Elijah Christopher

Elijah Christopher is a journalist at A New Touch Of Africa, is also a creative writer, a poet, and an IT enthusiast. He contributed to the collaborative poem written in celebration of Edwin Morgan Centenary, the first Glasgow poet laureate and Scottish national poet from the University of Glasgow. He loves meeting people and learning about new places, cultures, events, and lifestyles.

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