An African tale

African story

A young barefoot boy stood alone in the hot African sun gazing upwards, as a bright silver object passed slowly overhead. He had no idea what it was, but they were commonplace, and posed no threat. Much like the sun, the moon and stars, for him they had always existed.

Aircraft no longer landed in Africa; it had been like that for more years than anyone could remember. All they ever did now was pass high over the continent as they journeyed from one part of the world to another.

The boy lowered his head and leaned forward, his bare black skin glistening in the sunlight. His hand gripped a long blade of grass which yielded as he gave it a sharp upwards tug. He bit off the soft juicy end portion, chewed once and swallowed. With deft movement he pushed the remaining stiff piece of the shaft between two of his rear teeth. A small scrap of meat from last night’s ‘indaba’ had become trapped there. Meat was considered a luxury and consumed only on special occasions. The boy had no parents, well, none that he could remember, but the people of his village took care of him. His life was simple and wants minimal. One contented day passed like any other.

Satisfied he had cleared the obstruction from his teeth, the boy spat. He watched expressionless as a green-fly fell instantly upon the small saliva coated scrap, where it landed on the parched earth. The fly had barely begun to feast before a column of tiny red ants also found it. They would gladly have consumed the fly too, had it not immediately abandoned its prize and flown away. Within minutes the ants dissected the scrap and carried the pieces unceremoniously down into their nest.

In the past, many nations had tried to assist Africa by supplying material and financial aid, but more often than not it had the opposite effect. Corrupt officials simply enriched themselves, buying expensive cars and building grandiose houses. Little if any of the aid ever reached the people for whom it was intended.

Throughout the entire African continent, the infrastructure degraded, then finally collapsed. Roads and bridges crumbled, airports ceased to function and harbours silted up. Africa slid further and further into a state of lawlessness and decay, until the only way to prevent this contagion from spreading to the rest of the world was to isolate the entire continent.

The African populace, who by now were so preoccupied with simple basic survival, hardly noticed. Power lines were down and once the remaining home generators ran out of fuel and batteries were exhausted, all electronic communication fell silent. As the last aid worker left, contact with the rest of the world ceased.  Africa had returned to its primal state.

The bright silver object faded slowly from view. For one brief moment, a puzzled frown appeared on the face of the boy, as if trying to recall something long forgotten. He shrugged, and padded slowly on as dry dust puffed out from beneath his feet.


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