Sunday 19 October 2014

Sunday Story - I am Africa by Star A Prufock

Star A Prufock's story 'I am Africa' won third place in March 2014's short fiction contest.

I am Africa by Star A Prufock

I am Africa with its pulsing of drums and baked landscapes which become quenched by rains that dance. I am Africa with its tangerine sunsets, watermarked clouds and blistered air. I am Africa with its taste of ugali and cattle’s milk. I am Africa with the aroma of its coffee beans, sweet grasses and elephant dung.

I once roamed the Serengeti barefooted, my ebon skin clad in the red garments of the Maasai. I prayed to Ngai; I prayed for the health of my wife and my son—my son whose teeth gleamed like the tusks of an elephant’s under the African moon.

Before me, there are strange people. They wear curious garments as they hold peculiar toys which they speak into with their foreign tongues, or touch with their fingers all in a fury. They stand around the spectacle that I am: gawking and discussing each detail of my face, of my history, of my worth. They know not my true face, history, or worth. I have a face without a body. I have a face that is unreal. This face and I are affixed to a white wall in a room. Beyond us are corridors which travel through the annals of time. Through these corridors there are more walls, more rooms and glass cases and objects which fill them. These objects are nothing like us; these objects do not harbour the soul of a man. 

For three-hundred years I have known this mask. Ngai, I pray you have cursed the Laiboni who conjured the breath from my body and confined my soul to this black-gold visage!

And now before us, is a window. It is my soul which peers out into part of this new world because the mask, cannot. Countless more people walk past, bright lights and colors shine back at us as though they were heaven’s stars, metal things fly past along the roads and grey buildings abound.

My soul is limited within this sculpted, painted confinement; it remembers no more than of my existence last lived. It knows nothing beyond this face, these chambers, that window’s view.

What had I done for this to have been the fate which met me, you ask? Murderer that I am, I wrung the blood from the Laiboni! I wrung the blood from him as a cheetah would a gazelle. It was in his death that he did this to me, in his power as a shaman; it was in his vengeance. At night when all falls silent and darkness looms, I imagine the ghosts of he, my wife and son have come to haunt me, to laugh at my soul trapped within this hellish relic.

This odd world and these strangers are nothing for we are Africa. We are Africa with its roaring of lions and hissing of snakes. We are Africa with its dry quicksand and sting of scorpions. We are Africa with its cheetahs that wring the blood from the gazelles.

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