Earth Art: Out of Africa

The International Space Station’s altitude of about 250 statue miles overlooking the Earth provides a unique vantage point from which I’m able to view our world. Capturing geographical spots for Earth scientific observations is often part of my job here aboard our orbital laboratory. The images from space provide researchers on Earth with key data to better understand the planet.

But photography in space is also an enjoyable hobby. It helps to add some semblance of life balance on the scale of work and life. When you live at work for a year, this balance is very important.

The view across Earth has given me some incredible scenes. But I have most enjoyed photographing Earth with a different eye. Through a zoom lens and with the vantage point of the space station and the ever-interesting canvas of Earth, I’ve produced a series of Earth Art. Some of the most inhospitable places on Earth are also some of the most beautiful from space. The African continent is no exception.  

I recently took this wall-worthy art photo located on the western edge of the Sahara desert at center Mauritania in Northwest Africa. There is a giant quartzite circle called Richat Structure. It is approximately 24 miles across. This volcanic bulge that never erupted and was leveled by erosion makes for interesting Earth Art.

Traveling at 17,500 mph around the globe for nearly a year, I’ve had many opportunities to capture several abstract glimpses of Africa. Here are some of them. Enjoy! 

Meryl Streep Says, “We’re All Africans Really,” So Now White People Get That Too

When asked about the lack of diversity at an international film festival, Meryl Streep said, “We’re all Africans really.” Her statement was great news for white people, who now get to have that too.

During a press conference, a reporter asked Meryl Streep—the head of an all-white jury at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival—why there were so few representatives from minority groups on the panel. Streep dismissed the question, saying, “There is a core of humanity that travels right through every culture, and after all, we’re all from Africa originally.” It was a statement that acknowledged that, in addition to getting to decide which films from around the world are best, white people get to lay claim to every culture on Earth—including, but not limited to, the African continent.

“Berliners, we’re all Africans really,” Streep added, metaphorically handing over the legacy of African artists to a former imperial power.


South Africa's Sterkfontein Caves produce 2 new hominin fossils

Two new hominin fossils have been found in a previously uninvestigated chamber in the Sterkfontein Caves, just North West of Johannesburg in South Africa.

The two new specimens, a finger bone and a molar, are part of a set of four specimens, which seem to be from early hominins that can be associated with early stone tool-bearing sediments that entered the cave more than two million years ago.

“The specimens are exciting not only because they are associated with early stone tools, but also because they possess a mixture of intriguing features that raise many more questions than they give answers,” says lead researcher Dr Dominic Stratford, a lecturer at the Wits School of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental studies, and research coordinator at the Sterkfontein Caves. Read more.

Dedan Kimathi An African Hero.

I don’t like the image of Dedan Kimathi in the history books. You know the one? Where he is laying down, head on a white pillow, arms defeated. That’s the picture that was circulated by the colonial police of the day. Captured: No Freedom for you.

But of all the Mau Mau field marshals, why was this man so significant? Why print thousands of copies of this picture and send it to all the corners ofKenya?
Well, Dedan Kimathi born Kimathi wa Waciuri, was a myth.
Everyone knew about him but no one knew what he looked like. Children sang made up songs about him. Spreading rumours about him was habit. He was arrested several times and killed several times. He was once causing sleepless nights, by sharpening a machete outside their bedroom, for the white masters in different parts of the country at the same time. Psychological warfare.
For Self rule. Freedom. Justice.
Well, Kimathi was finally shot in the thigh by a Kikuyu home guard. Kimathi asked him, “Is it you who shot me?” He said yes. Kimathi said, “Ni wega.” (It is well.)
Kimathi identified himself and was arrested. The picture was taken and he was killed many times after that.
Self rule. Freedom. Justice. Were re inspired by his death.
The home guard was rewarded and lived a life of Judas Iscariot.
Wish I was an animator or an educator. I would fill children’s books with our version of events. If only to guard them from wishing to return to the slavery that took Dedan Kimathi to the forest. So many young and old men trying to be slaves again these days.
I would surely refuse to publish that picture.
I like this picture more.

by  Wambui Waiganjo

The Blue Nile Falls

Thirty kilometers downstream from its birthplace in Lake Tana, the fledgling Blue Nile drops over a basaltic cliff in a sheet of water a half mile wide, plunging 45 m in a plume of spray. The mist created by the Blue Nile Falls gives it its name in Amharic: Tis Isat, or smoking water.

Keep reading