Fly Machine/Mogaka

Thero Makepe

2018

Botswana

Context

On the 27th of April 2018, Major Cliff Manyuni, a Botswana Defence Force (BDF) pilot untimely met his death during a BDF Day rehearsal after steering a stricken fighter jet away from highly populated areas in Gaborone, thus saving many lives in the the process.

Although, BDF protocol and public affairs officials declined interviews on the tragedy that preceded the annual army celebrations on Saturday, his friends, colleagues and Batswana at large have hailed the deceased Major Cliff Manyuni a hero across all social media platforms.

Artist Statement

“Fly Machine” and “Mogaka”. Fly machine is a colloquial phrase used by Batswana to describe any object of aviation be it a jet, plane or helicopter. Mogaka is a Setswana translation of the word hero. The photography I employed in this series consists of photos taken of a diorama that I carefully constructed as well as photos from inside a large camera obscura where I manipulated light. Additionally, I used site specific photographs in relation to the exact locations where the pilot began to lose control of his aircraft and where he ultimately lost his life.

In this body of work, I aimed to explore the grey area between collective and personal memory as well as reality and imagination. Upon hearing this tragic news, I was immediately struck with a harsh reminder of my mortality and how quickly life can diminish. This series serves as a memorial and tribute to a man who sacrificed his life in a moment that required lightning quick decision making. In the practice of creating a photographic series, I would like to slow time down to allow the viewer to ponder and appreciate the ultimate sacrifice made by this person for the greater good of his people.

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