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Reading  Masimba Musodza  is equivalent   to my usual enjoyment  of  a  sumptuous dish  of African mushroom wood-fire cooked  by a willing mother  , a delicacy .   The  sequencing  of  the  story HERE BE CANNIBALS  is  highly captivating and was  diligently woven ,  suspense is the chief ingredient , dialogue  is the nourishing salt  and the dish is summed up  by mounting tension,    and tragedy becomes our full course meal, our  story   . While dialogue within  is profoundly intriguing  ,as   it firmly  unlocks  the mood of our story , hence  depicting morality  and pacing  our story  forward. CRAFTY.  HERE BE CANNIBALS  exposes to utter nudity the  evil , cantankerous and devilish   shenanigans of ruthless  political demigods and cruel- hearted warlords  as they incessantly plant  wars  through their  greedy , dictatorial  and insatiable quest bloodletting ,devilish super-power posturing  and unrepentant crude -habit of  grabbing natural wealth  of both military week  and politically fragile countries. It  depicts the demise of peace at doorsteps  and death of human freedoms as guns smash lives to pulp and wars burn our earth to ashes,   due to careless  perpetuation by back door political  charlatans and uncivilized zealots  always bent  on polishing the   devilish  egos of warlords with unwarranted filthy praise .Legendary Masimba Musodza is an extraordinary chronicler of events  through the art of   storytelling . TIME OF THE POET REPUBLIC proudly presents a  distinguished African Zimbabwean Author , a master of speculative fiction  and super -storyteller  Masimba Musodza-( Blurb by Mbizo CHIRASHA).

                                           

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                                                  HERE BE CANNIBALS

 

      by Masimba Musodza

 

A chance reading of a tiny amount of aletium-233 residue on the latest transmission from a geological satellite orbiting the rocky frozen wastes of Stephanos-3. The rest as they say is history.

But if we were to have any more history, I had to take my findings to Dr Ama Agos, Director of the Interplanetary Security Bureau.

“Are you absolutely sure about this, Yulios?” she asked, flinging the file she had just read towards me across the desk as if she wished to have no more to do with it.
“Aletium does not occur naturally anywhere for at least 50 parsecs,” I pointed out. “It’s all there in the report. All neighboring systems use miteferium or caesium. Or good old petrochemical.”

She frowned, a woman clutching at the straws of denial. “Perhaps the aletium is from some sort of equipment that they have on Stephanos-3,” she said.

“Madam Director,” I said, trying to keep the respect in my tone, “Every molecule of aletium in the Commonwealth is accounted for. That residue is new.”

Dr Agos leaned back in her chair. Behind her, through the wide port, the uninhabited planet, Ve-Haqq, spun slowly in swirling, shimmering shades of blue. “How many people have seen this?” she asked.

“Given the nature of the report, I was ready to put my security clearance and career on the line by going over the heads of my superiors,” I answered.

She nodded with grim satisfaction. “In other words, Yulios Kadzeka, you and I are the only people in this system who know that a technologically superior branch of humanity is preparing to invade us.”

The realization of such a fact requires that those who realize it sit still for a moment to reflect and fight the rising panic.

“The two of us, Madam, and their collaborators on Stephanos-3,” I added.

“Do we know that they made contact with Stephanos-3?” Dr Agos said, referring to the file.

“The aletium-233 residue is located around the mining planet,” I said. “However, not long after, a ship of the Haven-Denver Mining Corporation has been touring the planets on official company business. It is currently at Merowe.”

All of this was included in the report. When was she going to ask me about what wasn’t?

“Have you identified the invaders?”

I shuffled. “Madam, it has been nearly 500 years since we were cut off from the rest of humanity. Who is to say what political monster is out there; waiting, hungry, powerful?”

She got up, a tall matronly figure with a grey afro, and walked away from the desk. “If they have been touring the Commonwealth, they must know by now that we are wide open to attack. A fleet of helicopters could have any planet. And this HQ is just a big metal ball floating in space.”

“If the Secretary-General mobilizes for war, we could have a fighting chance!” I suggested, turning my head to face her as she came round me.

“Hundreds of autonomous communities scattered over seven planets and 14 satellites to mobilize as one fighting unit?” The Director laughed. “The political process of tabling the motion alone will take months. The General Assembly does not convene until next year!”

She bore down on me. “Young man, I fear that we are the only functioning aspect of the so-called Commonwealth Secretariat. Us and the boys who monitor Interplanetary Commerce, the wars on Butua and famine on Rombesa.”

She stared out in to space, at the swirling cloud formations of Ve-Haqq. When she spoke, it was with the voice of despair. “Why are they coming here?”

We both knew the answer to that. Mineral and petrochemical resources and a 700 million-strong labour force. Living room. Planetoids of nutrient sludge that could be turned in to vast hydroponic farms to feed billions. The Commonwealth was wealthy.

“Is this how the nations of Africa on the ancient Home Planet felt when they learnt that their lands were about to be invaded?” she wondered out loud. “Wringing their hands, or preparing their spears, knowing that there was no hope at all…..”

As she spoke, I was looking at the spears and cowhide shield mounted on the wall above the observation port. Relics of an ancient time on an ancient world from whence all humanity came. It had been pretty much the same then as it was out here in space, the weaker nations living in fear of the stronger. It had been the same in this system, until the Commonwealth was founded. On the Home Planet, our forebears had known that those spears and shields were no match for the engines of war of their enemies. They had had to devise other methods of defence.

She broke off as I got up from my chair with a start. “Yes, Yulios, what is it?”

“With your permission, Madam, I would like to launch as series of ships that will flood the periphery with Dh-ma Beams. They will be listed as toxic waste disposal ships off the Industrial Belt.”

“Yes, but why?” she asked. “Dh-ma Beams are residue from an attack by Agol-Class Destroyers.”

“Exactly!” I said.

The look of bewilderment on her face lifted, replaced by realization. “Of course, to an observer, it will look like the Ike-Ssi have been here, and the whole system is a radioactive wasteland. That may buy us time, or that may stop the invaders from coming at all.”

She returned behind her desk, suddenly purposeful. “I will have this Haven-Denver ship intercepted and detained immediately, and I will give you a warrant to carry out what you need to do.”

She paused, as a thought occurred to her. “Tell me, Yulios, was it something I said that gave you the idea, or was it just the years at the Sankore Academy of Physical Sciences?”

“It was something you said, Madam,” I replied.

She smiled expectantly.

“You mentioned Africa, on the far off Home Planet,” I explained. “It is said that one way the smaller nations could dissuade invaders was spread rumors of cannibals or monsters. There are still pictures of women with metal discs in their pierced lips, all to make themselves grotesque to would-be slavers. And heaps of human skulls left at borders to discourage explorers. And maps with parts simply marked ‘Forbidden’”

The Director smiled, savoring the visualization of the Commonwealth appearing on any charts from outside the system as FORBIDDEN or HERE BE CANNIBALS.

 

                              THE END

 

First published in Jungle Jim, South Africa issue #23, 2014.

 

 

MasimbaDraco

Masimba Musodza was born in Zimbabwe, but has lived most of his adult life in the United Kingdom. His short fiction has appeared in anthologies and periodicals around the world and online. Some of his stories have been long-listed for the Nommo Awards. He is the author of MunaHacha Maive Nei? Shavi Rechikadzi (ZIMAA Awards Best Fiction Book of the Year 2016), and the novella Aquilina (kana kuti, Reururo yaHatifari Maforimbo), written in his native language, ChiShona. In English, he has published Uriah’s Vengeance. His collection of science-fiction stories, The Junkyard Rastaman & Other Stories, has been published recently by Belontos Books. Musodza also writes for stage and screen and is the creator of the drama series, Hostile Environment. He has performed at Theatre-In-The-Park, Harare and at the Arc in Stockton-on-Tees, the UK. He also played supporting roles in major TV productions such as Beowulf: Return To the Shieldlands, Vera, Dumping Ground, and also advertisements. He is a Charter Member of the African Speculative Fiction Society.

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                         MEET THE TIME OF THE POET REPUBLIC CURATOR

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Mbizo CHIRASHA,  UNESCO-RILA  Affiliate Artist. Freedom of Speech Fellow to PEN- Zentrum  Deutschland,Germany. Alumni  of the International Human Rights  Arts Festival in New-York, USA. Literary Arts Activism Diplomatie. Globally Certified Arts Mediums Curator and Influencer. Internationally Published Page and Spoken Word Poet. Writer in Residence.  Arts for Human Rights Catalyst. Core Team Member of the Bezine Arts and Humanities Project. His illustrious poetry, hybrid writings, political commentary, short fiction, book reviews  and Arts Features are published in more  than 400 spaces notably the Monk  Arts and Soul in  Magazine  in United Kingdom. Atunis Poetry.com in Belgium. Demer press poetry series in Netherlands. World Poetry Almanac in Mongolia. Poesia journal in Slovenia. Bezine Arts and Humanities Webzine in USA. The Poet a Day in Brooklyn, USA. Litnet Writers Journal in South Africa. African Crayons in Nigeria. Poetry Bulawayo in Zimbabwe. Pulp-pit USA. The FictionalCafe international Journal, Texas USA. Best New African Poetry series in Zimbabwe, Zimbolicious Poetry Collections in Zimbabwe. Co-edited Street Voices International Publications with Andreas Weiland  in Germany. Co-Edited  Silent Voices Anthology, a Tribute to Chinua Achebe. Co-Edited the Corpses of Unity, solidarity collection to victimized Cameroonians with Nsah Mala. Curated and Edited the Zimbabwe We Want Poetry, Inside Digraceland speaking poetic truth to the Mugabe regime and other bad regimes.  He owns the Time of  the Poet blog zine, MIOMBOPUBLISHING that published the #GlobalCallforPeaceProject titled the Second of EARTH is Peace. A LETTER to the PRESIDENT his experimental  resistance poetry collection was released  in August 2019 by Mwanaka and Media Publishing. Co- Authored Whispering Woes of Ganges and Zambezi with Sweta Vikram in India. Good Morning President his first poetry collection was published in 2011  by Zimbabwean published based in United Kingdom, Diaspora Publishers.COVID 19 Satansdeadly fart is forthcoming. Chirasha is  Founder  and the Chief Editor of Brave Voices Poetry Journal, https://bravevoicespress.home.blog/ and WOMAWORDS LITERARY PRESS,https://womawordsliterarypress.home.blog/

MORE INFORMATION visit, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mbizo_Chirasha

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TIME  OF THE  POET REPUBLIC- An Internet based  Writers  Center,  Archiving Theme based Digital Poetry Anthologies and  publishing Iconic Poets ,Writers and Artists from around the globe. TIME OF POET REPUBLIC was  founded  by  UNESCO-RILA Affiliate ARTIST. Freedom of SPEECH Fellow PEN-Zentrum Deutschland.2019 African FELLOW ihraf.org and  Acclaimed Literary Arts Diplomatie,Mbizo CHIRASHA

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