Siyabulela Xuza
Photo Cred: Travis Schluter

Produced by founder, executive producer and owner of Coal Stove Pictures – Wandile Molebatsi – Rocket Boy follows the uniquely African narrative of an exciting young black scientist Siyabulela Xuza who won The Order of the Baobab.


Johannesburg, South Africa (25 December 2021) – Inspiring stories have the power to ignite a flame of hope in our lives that lights up the future. They help us explain our shared experiences of perseverance, triumph and change, and offer meaning and community in darker days.

Planned to go into production towards the end of February 2022, Rocket Boy is a story so inspiring it is sure to capture the hearts of the world.

Produced by founder, executive producer and owner of Coal Stove Pictures – Wandile Molebatsi – Rocket Boy follows the uniquely African narrative of an exciting young black scientist Siyabulela Xuza who won The Order of the Baobab. This prestigious presidential award is given for outstanding innovation and distinguished service. The narrative centres around his journey of developing a low-cost form of rocket fuel and the obstacles and victories that he walked through.

His brilliance has attracted great international minds to his work. Born in Mthatha in 1989, Siyabulela had the prestigious honour of having a minor planet named after him by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration-affiliated Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory, in recognition of his innovation in homemade rocket fuel. The minor planet in the main asteroid belt near Jupiter, with an orbital period of four years, was discovered in 2000 and renamed “23182 Siyaxuza” in recognition of Siyabulela’s achievements at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in the United States.

Siyabulela began experimenting with rocket fuels in his mother’s kitchen.

This passion turned into a serious science project that culminated in him developing a cheaper and safer rocket fuel, which culminated in the successful launch of a real home-built rocket, The Phoenix. His rocket achieved a final height of over a kilometre and earned him the junior South African amateur high-powered altitude record.

Rocket Boy - An Inspiring South African Story That The World Will Soon Know!
Photo Cred: Siyabulela Xuza

The rocket was propelled by his own invention: a cheaper, safer type of rocket fuel, which became the subject of a project titled “African Space: Fuelling Africa’s quest to space”. The incredible South African Scientist’s science project won gold at the National Science Expo and the Dr Derek Gray Memorial Award for the most prestigious project in South Africa.

“For me, this film is a celebration of African excellence. We forget that our continent has incredible stories of triumph and joy and that Africans have achieved remarkable things despite the heartache of some of our histories,” says Wandile.

It is Wandile’s quest in life to see more stories that shape a positive narrative of Africa like Rocket boy on our screens. He knows from working in the industry for decades that the talent of African creatives and writers is already internationally renowned.

The key rests in making sure that investors can see our Film & High-End TV sector as bankable.

According to Wandile, if more local stories are to have their time to shine in the limelight, there needs to be more buy-in from international investors and an easier way to connect African filmmakers to the international market. A turn-key option of how to secure financiers and finance models need to be made available to producers as ethically grounded in sharing the African narrative.

“Telling stories like Rocket Boy reminds me that being a South African producer can be such a privilege. One that is tough but absolutely worth it,” says Wandile.

COVID has had a massive impact on the way filmmaking and production is done in South Africa. While more obvious health and safety issues like budgeting for COVID Tests and having COVID Medics onset have been publicised, the evolution of the creative process during pre-production in South Africa has not been given credit.

Heads of the Department are learning how to share creative visions and schedules via online platforms, WhatsApp groups have become the new normal, and the lockdowns have taught film crews to respect the set more than ever before and cherish the power of collective collaboration.

“The industry has changed so much, and I think more than anything, we have all learnt that teamwork makes the dream work. I know that is cheesy, but the lengths that South African film professionals go through to make sure that projects are a success continuously makes me grateful for the people on my team. It reminds me that people are beyond essential to achieving any dream,” says Wandile.

The reality is that the energy and drive in the industry is buzzing and spreading to every corner of the country, not just in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Our local creatives hunger to be problem solvers has increased with the democratization of access to and power of platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram, allowing creators to find refreshing ways to tell their stories.

After a long journey of taking the Rocket Boy project as far afield as Toronto and Cannes, Wandile couldn’t be happier that the film found its home with AAA Entertainment who have a passion for enabling African content to have an international impact.

Rocket Boy is an amazing opportunity to project a very African narrative of hope and optimism into an international audience currently exposed to a lot of negativity surrounding South Africa. Through this film and its captivating and transformational story, we showcase the strength of the African stories to shape how audiences around the world perceive our prosperity.

Sources: Wandile Molebatsi
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Brent Lindeque is the founder and editor in charge at Good Things Guy.

Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

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