September 22nd, 2021

Numbat

A Fictional Non-Fiction Mefloquininated Fever Dream

   Alright this next scene of the memoir is a bit different. I intend for it to be in a slightly different font, I don't know if this livejournal supports the "android sans" font but in my word document I'm using it for this section becaues I can put it all in italics in that font and it doesn't seem too tedious to read. Anyway, more discussion afterwords:





   They say that mefloquine, which I was taking to prevent malaria, can cause vivid dreams, so let us in dreamland journey through quininated delirium to the proud Hausa kingdom of Zazzau in 1804. Zazzau Town is a collection of mud-brick buildings surrounded by a defensive wall in the hot savanna just south of the Sahara, we watch camel caravans come in from across the great deserts. 200 years earlier the legendary warrior queen Amina had led Zazzau to greatness, but now its leaders stand on the wall and eye the dusty horizons in fear, for another power has risen up in the expanses of the sahel -- the nomadic herders, wanderers and raiders, the Fulani, are now the ones to be united under a powerful leader, and they have formed the Sokoto Caliphate, conquering everything in their path and selling their captives into slavery. Indeed Sokoto has at this time the second largest number of slaves in the world, second only to that new empire across the seas to which captives are taken on wooden boats never to be seen again. It is whispered that the oyinbos, the “peeled skin people” actually eat the slaves they buy -- how else could you explain why they take away an endless stream with never a one to ever be heard from again?
   And so when King Muhammed Makau sees the dust of the armies of the Fulani Jihad he gathers up his people and they flee south to safety. Over the next 24 years this process repeats itself over and over again, as the Sokoto Caliphate expands and the weary refugees of Zazzau again move further south. Finally it is 1828 and the current king, Abu Ja (Abu the Red) finds himself gazing up at a massive rock, steep and grey like a sitting elephant, rising nearly a thousand feet above the surrounding forests. The local Gbagyi people have themselves fled the Zazzau Hausa, scrambling up secret paths to unassailable refuge atop the rock.
   In this fever dream, we find King Abu Ja to be the security guard I saw before going to bed, and, lo, I find myself his right-hand-man, his otunba. He is wearing not the avocado green uniform but flowing robes and sitting atop his rosey-brown head like a pristine white cake, a turban wound tightly into a circle with flat sides and top. We peer up at the tiny figures just visible on top of the enormous rock. A stone comes hurtling down from above and clatters among the rocks, Abu Ja in a dignified manner walks back a bit to stand under a nearby mango tree.
   “Your majesty, we can’t climb the rock, they’re completely unassailable up there” I tell him.
   “A completely unassailable position?” he smiles “now that’s what I think we’ve been looking for.”
   And so a peaceful conclusion is negotiated with the locals, and Abu Ja founds his city there, just west of Zuma Rock, and it came to be known as Abuja. His people settled with the Gbagyi people, and the Sokoto Caliphate expanded around them but did not conquer them.

   In 1902 a military force of a thousand men in British Khaki and pith helmets arrived in Abuja, led by white men with bristley mustaches proudly sitting atop their horses. Some Abujan warriors had rifles, but every member of this force had a modern gun, plus several huge weapons carried in carts, resistance clearly was suicide. Plus this force, it was explained, was on its way to defeat the Sokoto Caliphate, so the leaders readily agreed they recognized British sovereignty, whatever that means. At the Battle of Kano the British force unpacked their big guns, field howitzers which reduced the walls of the Sokotan fort, and maxim machine guns that unleashed a chattering death that felled the Sokotan cavalry as they charged. The sovereignty of the British “Northern Nigeria Protectorate” was now uncontested.
   Nigeria declared independence from the UK in 1960 and in 1975 it was decided to move the capital from Lagos in the far south-west corner of the country to somewhere in the middle, like, say, Abuja. The new federal planned city was laid out in rural land east of Zuma Rock and the previously existing city, displacing local Gbagyi people living in the area. The current city of Abuja therefore rises up only recently as a modern planned city.




   Soo, how do you think that worked? Ii really wanted to get the history of the places in, becaues I feel like most Westerners tend to think Africa was just a jumble of huts before colonization and I want to put our current time clearly in context of no there was as much history here as anywhere else. Yes this section adopts a second-person not found elsewhere in the piece, which is part of my trying to make the "mefliquinated fever dream sequence" bits clearly different, but if you loathe and despise the second person usage please let me know. In general I'm really particularly interested in how you think this is working?