This is Africa

Author : Feyisayo Anjorin

When I was a child growing up in Akure, surrounded by hills and tall trees, and green fields, I believed the book of genesis. The first book of the bible was said to be about the beginning of everything. The first things, the newness, the freshness, the revelation. If life indeed has an end, the beginning must be like the morning of it.

We know a lot about beginnings in this place. A beginning of growth, a beginning of rot, an iroko tree could fall for the need of a power; flowers bloom in their time and wither. We know those mornings of rosy dreams and bright flags, when we were drunk on hope, when we were certain of our reason to believe the best.

There was a time when Africa was reborn; a new Africa from the ruins of slave trade, colonialism, and apartheid. Like a baby, and later like a child, we had our excuses. And we could be excused. The misunderstanding of the differing tribes and tongues could cause wars and start fires; we followed our rulers slavishly while children starved and became skeletons, and vultures waited, looking down, waiting for our dead.

We were poor because of the white man’s oppressive system that we hope to change. Soon change is coming. Soon. We were sure.

Now we’ve gone a hundred years into the twenty first century life. Akure, Calabar, Mangaung, Monrovia, Gweru, wherever; we are all Africans because we can still count our giant trees and green fields. We still have a home for lions, and monkeys, and rhinos, and rats, and bats. We have a home for them without needing zoos. Not everybody is as fortunate. All some people have now are videos and pictures of “wildlife”. Sorry for mentioning that word; but this is Africa.

Maybe we are not really behind because we still have to import almost everything needed to be twenty first century savvy.

And then this issue of the law enforcement robots. It doesn’t bother me one bit. The police were a mess before them. There was a time some terrorists abducted over two hundred teenage girls in Chibok and it took the army over a year to get them back. Happy young girls; innocent and vulnerable. Some came back with babies, some pregnant, some came back with HIV and STDs; they had all been raped. They were all scarred for life.

The law enforcement robots were imported two years ago. To be sincere, I’m baffled by their human rights records because of their slavish dedication to the law. I’m not happy that the tossed the most revered Yoruba monarch into the car trunk. I’m against the injury inflicted on those alleged to be resisting arrests. I believe they do issue too many speed fines. They need to put a human face on these things.

But you can see clear signs of sanity here! There was a time when the law meant nothing to government officials and to citizens. It was chaos and we were getting too attached to lawlessness; which was toxic!

This is Africa and our peculiar problems need drastic solutions and adjustments.

The law enforcement robots of Africa have now been programmed to shoot dead any African head of state that tries to go beyond the term of office.

I was glad to hear it as the sun rose this morning on Radio Alalaye while sipping palm wine by the window. I waited there, listening to the online analysis on the benefits and ills.

I got more palm wine. This is just a beginning.

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Loxodonta Africana

Author: Lewis Richards

“What is it?”

“My boy, this is an Elephant.” The man responded, never taking his eyes from the animal.

“What does it do?” His grandson continued, Looking woefully unimpressed.

“Well, it eats, it drinks, you see those horns at the front? They’re called Tusks. Not many animals had those.”

The boy stared for a few seconds longer.

“Why is it frozen? Can’t they just walk around? The mechs in the hangar can walk everywhere and they’re much bigger than this.”

The man sighed. Taking a seat on an observation bench set back from the stasis tank.

“They are much more special than the Mechs and the construction bots and even us, Jacob. These are the very last Elephants. We thought they’d all gone. Then just as we were leaving, after all the fish and the birds were saved in our gene banks a man came to us, a very rich man.”

“He tried to buy his way here, bribing and blackmailing wherever he could, and then he showed us these. You see Jacob, the man didn’t want a place here for himself, he wanted to ensure his greatest treasure continued on.”

“What happened to the man? Is he here? Can we go see him?” Jacob asked, his interest growing in his grandfather’s story.

“I’m afraid not, see he knew that his wealth and the greed of people were what caused the Elephants to disappear in the first place And he didn’t want to carry that here with him.”

“He was offered a place, as he knew best how to care for the Elephants, but instead sent his Son on ahead, the boy had grown up watching these animals, and he was tasked with ensuring they were kept safe on our Journey.”

“So when will they wake them up?”

“Not just yet Jacob”

The man remembered his father fondly, and as he would probably not live to see his father’s dream come to fruition, he would leave that task to his own Grandson.

The ArkShip “Pan” would not reach its destination for another 17 years. The 2065 People, 12000 Human Embryos, a billion seeds and enough genetic samples to clone what was left of the Earth’s animal life back into being were the only survivors of the human race. The man looked at his grandson, too young to know yet that his life on a ship was nothing compared to what he would know when his feet touched the ground and the only thing above his was sky.

“Run along and find your mother now, you won’t want to miss the seed vault”

The boy looked at his grandfather, and then behind them to where his parents were wandering over to the exit of the zoological gene bank.

“Actually I think I’ll stay.” He said. “The tusks are pretty cool, right? They have kind if a weird nose though”

The man shuffled up smiling, making room.

“Let me tell you all about how they’ll use them”

“Awesome.”

The African Mystery

Author : Charles E.J. Moulton

William felt relieved, actually.

One more hour of digging and his hands would have lost all their flesh.

William threw down his shovel, straightened his back, stretching his muscles and positively felt his 50 year-old bones snap, crackle and pop inside his body.

The termite nests he had found proved it.

The small parasites had caused the fairy circles.

“One more picture,” William whispered to himself, lifting his Nikon D4 and pushing the button. He triggered utter panic down there. He loved watching the little guys. Was that mean? William didn’t know. The fact of the matter was that lonely William found himself at last in the position of being able to deliver the geological institute a definite solution as to why these strange fairy circles were appearing along the African coast.

Fairy circles? Why had William become so interested in these things at all? That Spanish ufologist came to mind, that dark guy with the dyed blond hair. A whole evening’s worth of discussion had commenced and prompted William to prove the Spanish guy wrong. Standing here in Namibia five years later, that damn sun transforming his skin into a wasteland of wounds, William remembered yelling at that guy that Africa was not the U.S. and that the American crop circles were not to be compared with the African coast.

Termites.

William reached toward his back pocket and took out his lukewarm water. The liquid felt cool trickling down his throat, cooler than the African sun. In comparison with that sun, the wind seemed chilly. In comparison with the heat, the water seemed refreshing. In comparison with the surrounding grass, these bare patches of wasteland seemed desolate. Eaten by parasites, devoured by insects, all life extinguished to serve one breed of vermin.

William took a few tired steps toward the large stone, throwing the bottle into his bag. Too many years now, too much research. It was time to go home now, take all his research, all those probes, all those little bugs, all that red sand, and give it to the institute in Johannesburg.

William wanted to spend at least a month just doing paper work at his office, eating pizza with his kids over the weekend, making love to his wife on Friday nights, enjoying an Orange River South African Pinotage red wine and a Bobotie dish of South African ground meat with an egg topping. No more than a few jotting of words in his notebook and he could call his wife and tell her to bring out the Scrabble game and pop the pop-corn for the kids.

No time for phone-calls, only time for the dropping of William’s notebook and pen. Had he not been seated, William would’ve stumbled.

The sun darkened because of the size of the arriving spaceships. William now knew what the Spaniard had described and how it was to see a UFO: the disability to move, the increased heartbeat, cold sweat running down a spine, the tingling of the nerve cells, the fear, then three alien ships burning three new dead fairy circles into the Arican ground.

When the alien walked out and took him by the hand, William didn’t protest. Questions were asked, information was exchanged and somewhere inside one of the ships he saw him: the Spanish ufologist. He smiled. It seemed, he belonged there.

William left the fairy circles forever, drove home, made love to his wife, gave up geology and became a painter.

William’s UFO-experience remained a secret for the rest of his life.

Termites remain the official cause of the circles.

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Divine Privelege

Author: Philip G Hostetler

Unit 117 found himself in the interrogation room of the Transplanetary Review Board. It was a place that few wanted to be, but that Unit 117 had been many times before. The reviewer walked into the room and sat at the table, he looked down at his files and back up at Unit 117,

“Ok, who do we have here?”
He squinted over his glasses,
“One abrahamic monotheistic patriarch set to watch over a planet called earth. Man, why do the fuck ups always choose the violent man-god archetypes? Alright, listen up Unit 117, you fucked up bad, and shame on us for not noticing sooner, look here…”

A slide show started,

“Let’s see here, genocide starting almost as soon as humankind learned to build a wall, rampant drug use amongst the host body, you let them walk around the woods eating any mushroom they like, leading to self awareness and therefore, free will. You don’t give humans free will, what’s rule number one, #117?”

117 looked up blankly, figuring the question was rhetorical,

“That’s not a rhetorical question.” Unit 117 answered mockingly,
“Rule number one, don’t give humans free will.”

“So, imagine our surprise when from 1,200 light-years away we detect an atomic bomb explosion on a planet where we’d specifically forbade the use of nuclear anything. Look, remember the brochure for earth?”

He pulled out the brochure card, a holographic advertisement rang out,

“Come to earth, the planet of unspoiled nature, enlightened thought and home to a peaceful sentient species of sexy humanoids whose sole endeavor in life is to live harmoniously with each other and take joy in being responsible stewards of their world.”

Cut back to the slideshow showing ethnic conflict, racism, war, prisons, police brutality, and ugliness ad nauseum.

117, just leaned back in his chair, and grinned the biggest shit eating grin the universe had ever seen.

“You’ll answer for this 117. What were you even doing while humankind was learning to slaughter each other?”

“Fucking Grecians.”
“What?”
“It’s an earth thing, and I’m not gonna answer for shit, you know why, because my daddy owns that world. So I can fuck all the Grecians and Asians and Africans and Europeans and Americans and whoever the fuck I want to. I can blow them the fuck up and snort rails off of everest, I can goad them into thinking they can get off that rock and colonize space and snatch it away in the blink of an eye. Why the fuck do you think my father sent me 1,200 light-years away from anything? Because I. Fuck. Shit. Up. So get the fuck outta my face, you think you’re in charge? My father pays your salary, probably owns your planet too. What kinda planet you rockin’ huh? You probably got one of those agrarian egalitarian boring ass bullshit worlds, am I right?”

The reviewer looked at him slack jawed, and with a silent fury.

“Wait, you don’t even lease a planet, do you? Oh shit, I bet you don’t even have a continent to yourself. What a little bitch! Get the fuck outta my office worm.”

117 gestured for him to leave the room. Which of course he did. Have you any idea who this kid’s father is?

Echoes of Mars

Author: Martin Barker

The morning sun creeps above the horizon in a sulphurous ochre sky. My spacesuit shields me from the radiation but eventually this desolate, wasted, planet will claim my bones for dust. I miss blue skies and birdsong.

Our mission to Mars was supposed to mark a new beginning for the Human race. We were to establish a community, exploit the vast underground lakes we discovered on our last mission, set up the biospheres, lay down roots. I spent three years preparing in a specially designed bunker in the Nevada Desert, learning how to survive in the most hostile of environments. Events on Earth gave our work an urgency.

The long predicted climate catastrophe was playing havoc across all continents. The droughts in Africa were driving mass emigration on an unprecedented scale. Europe had just endured the longest and coldest winter on record, with large parts of Greece, Spain and Southern Italy spending months under snow. North America suffered a third successive year of extensive wildfires and devastating hurricanes, Asia’s food crops were blighted by disease. It was estimated that half the world population no longer had access to clean water. All things considered, all of us on the Mars mission were glad to get away.

Once we had arrived on the red planet our work went extremely well. We were a team of twenty, from seven different nations, selected for our skills in construction, engineering and agriculture. Within a year, through selfless endeavour and the most cordial co-operation, we had established a fully functioning and amicable community. It was different back on Earth.

As the global climate crisis deepened the superpowers flexed their muscles. Proxy wars escalated, fuelled by food and water shortages, exacerbated by a collapse of the world economy. We followed the news with mounting horror as the first nuclear missiles were fired. China had invaded India, Europe was at war with America. My companions were keen to return to their loved ones, I was the only one reluctant to make the journey home, not having family to worry about.

Isolated and alone, I spent my days searching through the satellite channels for news, reception became ever more erratic as war escalated. I saw images of vast cities around the world being laid to waste in the nuclear holocaust, entire countries disappearing in fire and flame, of oceans dying from biological warfare and nuclear fallout. I wish I hadn’t returned. I’d come back to Earth with the others, back to Nevada, and stayed here, at the bunker, when everyone else left. I’ve heard nothing from the outside world for nearly five months, my air supply is almost exhausted.

The morning sun creeps above the horizon in a sulphurous ochre sky. My spacesuit shields me from the radiation but eventually this desolate, wasted, planet will claim my bones for dust. I miss blue skies and birdsong.