They had heart. Envisioned themselves making their own historical imprint on the human race. Although, their resources were limited, their training slightly bizarre, the African people wanted nothing more than to participate. The Zambian National Space Agency was founded in 1964, which was the same year space exploration captivated the world. Never given the go-ahead by the government, a retired science teacher, Edward Makuka Nkoloso imagined a flight with his aluminum and copper spacecraft that would carry Africans to the moon, then to Mars.
His vision was pretty huge. Yet, his determination is certainly commendable.
Following all the dreaming up and planning came a series of drills to train the crew. This included hours of (I’m sure entertaining) rolling down hills in oil drums, followed by walking on their hands, meant to simulated weightlessness. After a bunch of negative publicity, the UNESCO shut down Edward Makuka Nkoloso and his mission to mars. Sad, but true.
The series of photographs are called Afronauts, as a recreation of these events. They are fun and sporty with connotations of African culture, dress, humor. Some appear ridiculous, some make you feel kind of sad, others have a noteworthy flare reflecting such different worlds: outer space and the plains of Africa.
Artist Cristina De Middel says in her own words, “We are most of the time given a post-colonial and condescending portrait of Africa and I wanted to show that while we may not share the same level of technology, we do share dreams.”