By Elias Muthama
2003 was an extremely hot year, and the world was experiencing various climate changes. You could boil an egg by just placing it in a cup of water and leaving it outside. East Africa, which was supposed to experience regular seasons with specific timing for rains and dry weather was having a field day in a pot of chaos. The few people who owned television sets would eagerly wait for the weatherman to make his prediction after the news. The meteorology department had been reduced to a circus show. One week they would announce that the rains would finally pour in a fortnight and farmers would till their lands. A fortnight later and the only drops to pour were the tears from people who had spent their resources on the ground but their plans made God laugh. The forest department in Laikipia had instructed for the locals who were interested in collecting firewood in Marmanet forest to get permits with their local offices. It was a strategy in an effort by the government to make sure that all the dry and dead trees that posed a risk for forest fires were collected from the forest. All it took was one storm for lightning to strike a fallen tree and start an uncontrollable fire.
“Ma, please let me accompany you today. I am strong and grown up now. I can carry firewood,” pleaded Kiowa.
“The forest is no place for kids. And you are just a six-year-old boy. You are not grown up.”
“But ma, the neighbours take all their kids with them to the forest,” insisted Kiowa.
Kiowa’s mother who was a widow after her husband had died in a quarry incident knew that the wild spirit of her man still lived in their boy. His old man loved playing with dynamite as if it was a toy and one time his foolish behaviors led him to biting the dust. Kiowa was an adventurous boy, and most were the times that she would spend a better part of her day looking for him on his many ventures. One time after searching for him for an entire day they found the boy stuck on a tree he had climbed and he had explained that he was trying to climb to heaven where his father went.
“Okay, we will go today, but you will have to stay where I can see you. No explorations today, young man.”
Two hours passed and it was nearly sunset, and they could not find the boy. Mugure cried as other women from her village tried to comfort her. She could not imagine losing the only other man in her life. Her little young man. A search party that combined forest rangers and some locals set out to look for Kiowa. When the last ray struggled to light the forest floor, one guard spotted a male elephant that stood alone by a thicket. When he got closer to the elephant, he saw a little boy who stood a few inches close to the enormous animal. He froze, and he could not catch what he heard, but the little boy was uttering something to the elephant.
The Kimathi Institute of Technology was a beneficiary of the partnership of three nations to research genomic medicine. Japan and Norway were the other two countries that had decided to participate in the revolutionary scientific studies. The high number of deaths due to malaria in the country and other similar epidemics in their states had prompted the two nations to assist Kenya in finding a solution to getting rid of sickness. It was strange that more than five deaths daily in Kenya were related to the illness that was being spread by mosquitoes. The government of Norway funded the research while the Japanese provided the necessary technology as well as specialists in their country. That is when Kiowa met Caro Nakamura the Japanese genius in genetic science.
“So, I guess you owe me dinner. I told you Barcelona would win that match,” Kiowa told Caro with a grin on his face.
“I owe you nothing, you cheated. I don’t know how but you did.”
They always loved to argue about football. It was 2018 and football was a natural conversation starter anywhere around the world. Kiowa knew that this Japanese girl knew close to nothing about football, but it was a natural conversation starter than talking about the Japanese war soldier who got stuck in the jungle after the Second World War.
The project was to combine the genetic breakthroughs with information technology to eliminate the traits that made people of African origins be significantly affected by malaria. There were a lot of ethical constraints as the world was not yet ready for genetically altered superior beings. It was unfair for the rest of the world even though people knew that genomic medicine was the breakthrough that humanity needed to make the human race resilient to the changes that the planet was experiencing. The world needed people who could withstand extreme weather and have resistance to lifestyle diseases. Kiowa who was pursuing his doctoral degree in Kimathi University was one of the most brilliant information technology students in the world. At only 21 he was the pride of his community, and he had been approached by the government to participate in many projects.
“I have some unfortunate news for you Kiowa,” said Caro.
“What news? I hope it is isn’t to tell me that you won’t be buying me dinner because I was going to buy it anyway. Fret not, I got you. We can forget that you lost a bet.”
“I’m afraid it is something serious, and I don’t know where to start.”
“You are freaking me out. What’s going on?”
“I got a call last night, and the project has been cancelled”
“Wait. What? How? Is this some joke?”
“I’m afraid not. I did not get much from the department, but the rampant cases of corruption in Kenya are a part of the reason why.”
A year later Kiowa realized the reason why the project was cancelled is that the project had been under a microscope by the international community since its inception. The progress of the project was continually updated to an organization called Cosmo Graph that was based in Kiev. He had used his expertise to investigate by mining some classified data from Interpol and all along the project had been funded by the shelf corporation. The corporation could not carry out legal research in Europe or Asia as it was against many international laws. The Kenyan malaria incidence provided the perfect opportunities to carry out their research to develop human clones and intelligent bots. Investigations by the Japanese intelligence agencies in collaboration with Interpol had discovered the real nature and particulars of the project and had informed their counterparts at Norway to pull out from the project too as it was illegal and had breached several United Nations conventions on research on humans.
“What we are doing is not okay. If our governments found out we were still carrying out this research we would face serious consequences,” said Caro to Kiowa.
“This research is beyond any of us. We have to use our abilities to make this work.”
“But I am not sure about this. This research is not okay; our baby is the specimen. What if things go wrong?”
“Nothing will go wrong. I will make sure of that. Our baby will be a perfect human. He will be like a god among people,” said Kiowa with light of promise on his face.
“I was okay with altering the DNA structure to reduce the chances of our baby being affected by diseases, but I am not sure if I am okay with integrating his mind with computers,” said Caro.
“This nanochip is safe, and I have written a complex code that will keep her safe from other parties altering his algorithm.”
Kiowa had managed to convince the Japanese girl to extend her stay in the country by applying for another visa. She was in love with him, and although he had very ambitious plans, they made her stick around. He proposed they extend their research by having their baby who would be a combination of both their expertise in their fields.
“Mr Kiowa, we have your wife. If you want ever to see her again you have to bring us all of your research and the child,” a caller with a distorted voice said.
“Please do not do anything to harm my wife. I will do what you want. Where do I meet with you?” Kiowa pleaded.
“We will send you more instructions. Just stay connected and wait for our call.”
He used his expertise to try and locate her location using a chip he had installed in her body without her knowledge. The nanochip could not be discovered using the satellite systems he had bypassed, and that indicated either of two things. Either they had located it and removed it, or she had been killed already.
“Tindi? Where are you?” Mugure called out for her granddaughter.
It was 2032, and she was an old woman, but she had seen all sorts of changes in the world, but some things were still the same.
“Alexa where is Tindi?” she asked the Amazon assistant that had been made into a robot that was part human part robot.
All households had at least one of the virtual assistants as people had been convinced that the inventions guaranteed privacy. Although Mugure was against purchasing one of the bots her granddaughter had convinced her otherwise.
The technology of integrating humans and machines had been acquired by some tech companies, and the cost was the loss of the lives of both Kiowa and Caro. Kiowa had managed to make sure that they would never find Tindi as she was more superior in all ways. He had made sure to leave the little girl with his mother who hated anything to do with technology. That was the only way he was guaranteed she would be safe in the Laikipia plains close to the forest. Mugure had
“Tindi is drunk at the statehouse,” replied Alexa.
She then heard a burst of loud laughter coming from another room. It was Tindi, and she was 12 years old with a twisted sense of humour.
“Tindi I know you did that. You have to stop corrupting Alexa, or I’ll sell her away to the neighbours and you will have to do all the errands and chores,” said Mugure.
“Alexa is my bitch. She isn’t going anywhere,” said Tindi.
“Young woman. That kind of language is not allowed in this house.”
“Sorry grams. But I think it is time we addressed the elephant in the room,” said Tindi.
“What elephant? There is no elephant in the room,” said Mugure.
“Yes, there is. A huge one. It is time I finally did what I was made to do. Time to Make The World Great Again.”
Read more of Elias’s work at Millenial Symphony.