Info / Book / Sound Art / Installation

On the 27th of April 2018, Major Cliff Manyuni, a Botswana Defence Force (BDF) pilot, met his untimely 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 process.

Although BDF protocol and public affairs officials declined interviews on the tragedy that preceded the annual army celebrations in 2018, his friends, colleagues and Batswana at large hailed the deceased, Major Cliff Manyuni, as a hero across all social media platforms.

The photography I employed in this book consists of photos of a diorama that I carefully constructed and pictures 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.

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. In recent years, there have been conflicting reports on what the true cause of this tragic event was – the man or the machine.

In this body of work, I aimed to explore the grey area between collective and personal memory and 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 book 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 book, 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.
© Thero Makepe 2024