Showing posts with label space. Show all posts
Showing posts with label space. Show all posts

Monday, August 27, 2012

Africans in the '60s - Liberation and Neil Armstrong's Moon Landing

The sad news of Neil Armstrong's passing offers a chance to revisit how much the idea of space travel and race to land a man on the moon also had a powerful hold over the popular imagination of many Africans in the 1960s. One example, of course, is grade-school science teacher Edward Makuka Nkoloso's Zambian space program and its proposed mission to Mars on the eve of Zambian independence in 1964.

Hinted in Alexis Madrigal's blog post about Nkoloso is a sense of the end of liberation struggle, Zambia's independence day celebrations and, perhaps, the same kind of naiveté, optimism and euphoria we've seen frozen and capsuled by photographers like Philippe Koudjina and Malick Sidebe in the black and white pictures they took of Malian youth in that hopeful time.

The same optimism is captured in a different way in the two 5 mins excerpts below from Congolese auteur  Balufu Bakupa-Kanyinda's 2009 short film, We Too Walked on the Moon (Nous aussi avons marché sur la lune), which uses the 1969 American Apollo 11 mission that landed Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon as the year and the backdrop for an interesting glimpse at middle class Congolese lives -- a teacher, a doctor and an artist.



In the film we get to see each person experience the radio broadcast of the moon landing differently, with the artist (you can see that in the 2nd excerpt) eventually deciding that he must also walk on the moon.



With the news and discussion of a moon landing as a reminder of the technological chasm between Africa and the West, Olivier Barlet's  review over at Africultures, I think, touches the core of Bakupa-Kanyinda's film (Google auto translation + mine):
The film revolves between poems by Aime Cesaire and the Congolese poet Tshiakatumba Mukadi, recited by students under the direction of their teacher.... A slow tracking shot shows various portraits tacked above the blackboard, revealing many major African figures, including Obama, confirming them as sources of inspiration.... For an Africa that suffers from an inferiority complex inherited from the mental integration of its alleged backwardness, the message is simple: be the image of those of you who believed in themselves.
This post is a reworked version of a previous post from July 2nd 2010.  


Monday, July 25, 2011

Zimbabwe: Cafe View of Harare's Art Scene



The Nomadic Wax crew that shot the mini documentary above about Zimbabwe's alternative hip hop scene talk at length about the capital's famous hub of cultural activity, "Book Cafe":
... The Book Cafe is one of the most exciting and interesting places I have been to anywhere in the world and the arts scene that it has helped to create and support is truly remarkable. Every night, a different young artist is featured. The audience is always made up of all the other local artists, from famous ones like Chiwoniso to up and coming ones like emcee Synik. Our team immediately fell in love with the Zimbabwean hip hop and spoken word scene, with its unofficial headquarters at one of the various wooden tables in the Book Cafe's restaurant. With a huge freestyle culture, and a unique approach to both bilingualism and English raps, Zimbabwean hip hop has a huge amount of potential. Dancehall has also exploded in popularity in Zimbabwe as whole, influencing other genres, like hip hop, as well. That said, the emcees we did meet were firmly rooted in their own hip hop identities, enthusiastically separating themselves from the 'pop' or 'traditional' music scenes. We were repeatedly treated to the most interesting and refreshing perspectives on the political situation in Zimbabwe from its local emcees, usually over some boney chicken and greasy fries from Nando's.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Tunisia: Hanging Portraits of the People where Those of their Dictators Once Hung, Cont'd



The first webisode is a more indepth look at the JR Inside Out Project in Tunisia. Earlier in the year, the team proceeded to place portraits of the Tunisian people in the same public spaces where, just months before, was reserved for only portraits of their leaders. Backstory blogged here. A new trailer below:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Zambia: Postcolonial Sci-Fi

Zambia marked its independence day 2 days ago and over at the Atlantic's tech blog Alexis Madrigal digs up the story and video of a Zambian space program in 1964 spearheaded by a grade-school science teacher Edward Makuka Nkoloso. Nkoloso claimed he heads the Zambia National Academy of Science, Space Research and Philosophy and wanted 7 million pounds from UNESCO to fund his race to beat the Americans and Russians to the moon.


One of the links in Madrigal's post leads to this 1964 Time magazine article about the buzz leading up to Zambia's independence ceremonies, and mentions Nkoloso:
During the independence festivities only one noted Zambian failed to share in all the harmony. He is Edward Mukuka Nkoloso, a grade-school science teacher and the director of Zambia's National Academy of Science, Space Research and Philosophy, who claimed the goings-on interfered with his space program to beat the U.S. and the Soviet Union to the moon. Already

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Zimbabwe: Ruwa, Area 57

X Files diehards will recall Scully, trying to disprove that life on earth originated from aliens while tracking down an alien artifact making Mulder sick as a dog, did end up in West Africa in season 7 where she came upon an alien ship half buried on some remote Ivory Coast beach.

So missing the X files is my pathetic excuse/segue into these crazy but delicious old reports about account of 62 school children in Ruwa, Zimbabwe, who, in 1994, saw an alien ship land in their school yard:



Definitely someone is using the basis of little children in Africa as some kind of unassailable proof. But 62 kids sticking to their story is huge. Apparently these videos have been circling the UFO community for years, but like the guy who recently saw a flying fish, I'm just finding out that Ruwa, Zimbabwe, has had its fair share of alien sightings over the years. Africa's Area 57 anybody?



Must all reports on alien sightings be blurry? For once can't some alien show up when there's a news crew around.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

South Africa: A Race for the SKA

VOA's TV2Africa brings us up to speed on South Africa's bid to be the location (rather than Australia) for the Square Kilometer Array (SKA) - an international radio telescope with one hundred times more collecting area than the Very Large Array.



...Diamond Fields Advertiser (31 March) as a race update, which explains why SA is well in the lead, but...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Nigeria: The Race to Put the First Black African in Space

In an essay about Nigeria's National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) [headed by Robert Borrofice -- profiled here and here] in the fall issue of Nature last year, the country's former minister of science and technology, Turner T. Isoun, revealed:
Last year, in partnership with China, we launched NigcomSat-1, a communications satellite. NigeriaSat-2, a higher resolution remote-sensing satellite, is due to be sent into orbit in 2009, again with help from the UK. There are also plans to send a Nigerian astronaut into space by 2015 and to launch a Nigerian-made satellite by 2018, taking advantage of Nigeria's geographic location to launch into near-equatorial orbit.
Okay, we can stop giggling now. Seriously, Global Post's Katrina Manson checks in on the 27 Nigerian engineers being trained in how to design and build an earth observation satellite in the U.K., at private British company Surrey Satellites Technology in Guildford, southeast of London.

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