File image: Stephen Hawking. (Independent UK).

CAPE TOWN - Stephen Hawking will be remembered as the “Master of the Universe” but some might be surprised to know that the physicist left a lasting legacy in South Africa. 

The famed professor visited SA in 2008, while he was conducting a number of projects, the South African reported. 

Hawking's visit to the country was to promote "The Next Einstein initiative", which sought out talented individuals in sciences across Africa. 

Shortly after, the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) was created, a Pan-African network that offers degree programmes to students.

AIMS also gives these students the opportunity of working in their preferred industries and has institutions set up all countries such as Rwanda, Ghana, and Tanzania.

It has since developed into a mass operation continent wide and received donations from large corporations such as Google and the International Research Development Centre (IRDC). 

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The professor spent part of his last years endorsing the foundation. 

During his trip, the renowned physicist also met with revolutionary South African leader Nelson Mandela back in 2008 at the Nelson Mandela Foundation Joburg offices, during which Hawking proclaimed his admiration for the statesman. 

READ ALSO: Stephen Hawking: a brief history of genius

Here, Hawking delivered his first public lecture in Africa before embarking on a visit to the National Institute for Theoretical Physics in Stellenbosch. 

His legacy will live on in SA and beyond and Hawking will continue to be remembered as “Master of the Universe”. 

FACTS ON A GENIUS 

Hawking became one of the youngest fellows of Britain's most prestigious scientific body, the Royal Society, at the age of 32.

In 1979 he was appointed Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University, where he had moved from Oxford University to study theoretical astronomy and cosmology.

A previous holder of the prestigious post was the 17th-century British scientist Sir Isaac Newton.

Hawking eventually put Newton's gravitational theories to the test in 2007 when, aged 65, he went on a weightless flight in the United States. 

This test was as a prelude to a hoped-for sub-orbital spaceflight.