For this assignment we were asked to look at a film made by Christina De Middel that focuses around a Zambian space program. Then wright a 300 word essay based on the semiotics of this film.

The Afronauts by Christina De Middel


“(Christina) takes the idea of Africans creating a successful space program during the 1964 space race and not only makes it seem more absurd but also creates comparison between an alien species and Africa during this period as an alien nation.”

Interpretive codes within this text indicate, especially to western viewers that Africa was behind the times, with America and Russia creating successful space programs with huge budgets. It seems almost insane that a country in so much poverty with little technological advancements would even attempt to create a space program. Therefore to many viewers this film may be interpreted to be mocking the Zambian attempt to reach space.

Visual signs including Images of Africans being suspended in barrels, and trying to cross small rivers in make shift rafts, as part of the programs training scheme. These images portray connation’s to a lack of knowledge, or education. This creates the idea that the attempt the Zambians made to reach space was something of stupidity. Whilst also reflecting the negative myth that Africans themselves are stupid.

Similarities are also drawn between these (Afronauts) and the Idea of an alien species, trough visual signifiers that can be seen within the images used for this text. Images of them in their make shift space suits make them look almost alien them selves, The bright colours signify African culture, whilst images of them wearing these outfits set in strange space like environments hold connotations to the Africans themselves being alien like.

Even the background music used for this film that appears to be some kind of African tribal chant or song. Seems to have been made static, making it sound like some sort of frequency radio transition. Signifying contact with are world and an alien species through connotations made to western si-fi films.

I feel weather done intentionally or not, this film made by Cristina De Middel not only pokes fun at the idea of a Zambian space program, but also reflects Africa in a negative light through the connotations that can be drawn from this film.