Cristina de Middel
THE AFRONAUTS re-imagines the true story of Zambia's attempt to land twelve people (and ten cats) on Mars. This was the dream of Edward Makuka, a high school teacher who became the Director-General of the (unofficial) Zambia National Academy of Space Research. In the early 1960s, Makuka wanted to make his freshly-independent African country the greatest power in Space, surpassing the U.S. and the Soviet Union. To achieve his ambitions, he created a makeshift training centre about eleven miles from Lusaka, where trainee astronauts were placed in large oil drums and rolled down a hill to help them experience weightlessness. Sadly, the mission was indefinitely delayed due to a lack of funding (the $7 million Makuka requested from the United Nations never arrived), and when one of his astronauts, a 17-year-old girl, became unexpectedly pregnant, the mission was abandoned for good.