We Shall Fly [world Service]

Episodes

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Broadcast
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01The Documentary20161018
01The Documentary20161018

01The Documentary20161018

Space scientist Maggie Aderin-Pocock visits Nigeria, the birthplace of her father, to look at why African nations are apparently so keen to journey into the future as a space-going continent. She explores the passionate desire among some to fly against the continent’s impoverished stereotype and join the space race. And, what of the financial commitment required to achieve these dreams in countries where it is sometimes a struggle to keep the lights on?

“Quite a few false starts have been made in Africa,? wrote the Ugandan philosopher and writer Taban Lo-Liyong, “...but most of us know the direction we are going – straight into the 21st Century. And to arrive there we are not going to go the way our grandparents would have gone – on foot and by canoe. We shall fly, we shall go by missiles, we shall go with the white man, we shall go with the yellow man. And we shall go by all means.?

We follow this poetic, aspirational spirit through the continent’s history, from speaking to the South African hoping to be the first black African in space, to a surprising and touching example of amateur space exploration in 1960s Zambia. What do these ambitions mean, and who believes in them?

(Photo: Back dropped by planet Earth the International Space Station (ISS) is seen from Nasa space shuttle Endeavour, May 2011. Credit: Nasa)

01The Documentary20161018

The surprising history of African space exploration

01The Documentary20161018

The surprising history of African space exploration

Space scientist Maggie Aderin-Pocock visits Nigeria, the birthplace of her father, to look at why African nations are apparently so keen to journey into the future as a space-going continent. She explores the passionate desire among some to fly against the continent’s impoverished stereotype and join the space race. And, what of the financial commitment required to achieve these dreams in countries where it is sometimes a struggle to keep the lights on?

“Quite a few false starts have been made in Africa,? wrote the Ugandan philosopher and writer Taban Lo-Liyong, “...but most of us know the direction we are going – straight into the 21st Century. And to arrive there we are not going to go the way our grandparents would have gone – on foot and by canoe. We shall fly, we shall go by missiles, we shall go with the white man, we shall go with the yellow man. And we shall go by all means.?

We follow this poetic, aspirational spirit through the continent’s history, from speaking to the South African hoping to be the first black African in space, to a surprising and touching example of amateur space exploration in 1960s Zambia. What do these ambitions mean, and who believes in them?

(Photo: Back dropped by planet Earth the International Space Station (ISS) is seen from Nasa space shuttle Endeavour, May 2011. Credit: Nasa)

01The Documentary2016101820161022 (WS)

The surprising history of African space exploration

01The Documentary2016101820161022 (WS)

The surprising history of African space exploration

02The Documentary20161025

Maggie Aderin-Pocock looks at the surprising history of African space exploration.

02The Documentary20161025

02The Documentary20161025

02The Documentary20161025

02The Documentary20161025

Maggie Aderin-Pocock looks at the surprising history of African space exploration.

02The Documentary2016102520161029 (WS)

Space scientist Maggie Aderin-Pocock visits Nigeria, her father's birthplace, and asks why African nations are apparently so keen to journey into the future as a space-going continent. She finds people there are excited about space exploration and discovers her roots in a town where, according to Yoruba mythology, the world was created. But ultimately she wants to find out if space programmes restore a continent’s pride or are just vanity projects of the elite?

(Photo: Part of the ensemble of dishes forming South Africa's MeerKAT radio telescope. Credit: Mujahid Safodien/AFP/Getty Images)

02The Documentary2016102520161029 (WS)

Space scientist Maggie Aderin-Pocock visits Nigeria, her father's birthplace, and asks why African nations are apparently so keen to journey into the future as a space-going continent. She finds people there are excited about space exploration and discovers her roots in a town where, according to Yoruba mythology, the world was created. But ultimately she wants to find out if space programmes restore a continent’s pride or are just vanity projects of the elite?

(Photo: Part of the ensemble of dishes forming South Africa's MeerKAT radio telescope. Credit: Mujahid Safodien/AFP/Getty Images)