CAPE TOWN – Tributes are pouring in for South African Mandla Maseko after he died in a bike accident this weekend. Maseko, who was known as ‘Spaceboy’ and ‘Afronaut,’ was going to be the first black African to travel to space.
The 30-year-old man was a candidate officer in the South African Air Force and a public speaker. In 2013, he beat off millions of entrants and won a spot at the Axe Apollo Space Academy in the US in 2013, along with 22 other people.
South Africans took to social media and paid tribute to Maseko. He was described as an inspiration to all young South Africans.
What a loss for SA. 💔😢🇿🇦#RIPMandlaMaseko
— Khanya Thembane (@noksy_k) July 7, 2019
Seeing all the tributes poir in for you is making me weaker, You have done a lot for South Africa i’m sad ntwana and i am going to miss your humility and forever comsiderate heart ❤️ #RIPMandlaMaseko pic.twitter.com/Hm0enZh0LJ
— #BabaYaga🇿🇦 (@boun_berry) July 8, 2019
— Valarie Solutions (@ValarieSolutio1) July 7, 2019
It hurts 😭😭😭😭#RIPMandlaMaseko we spent the day laughing n dancing I thought I could finally let go of the pain of loosing both my friend's last year.. but then loosing you just in the few hours after we spoke pic.twitter.com/rDekViKYP2
— Rethabile Mashego (@abilemash) July 7, 2019
#RIPMandlaMaseko the good die young, wherever you are in the nooks and crannies of the universe, you will always be missed, a life well lived, be a good ancestor to your family and nation at large!!
— Castro Ngobese (@castrongobese) July 8, 2019
According to BBC, he had spent a week at the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida doing tests in preparation for an hour-long sub-orbital flight, originally scheduled for 2015. In an interview with BBC before his death, Maseko said he wanted to “motivate and inspire young people in Africa and prove that they could achieve anything whatever their background”.