Cinque

Flash Fiction — an extended version of the shortlisted story for Africa @2050 climate fiction contest

Balpolam Idi
5 min readNov 27, 2023

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Photo by Peter Burdon on Unsplash

October 2020

Nuhailah wondered why her phone kept blowing up. October has been such a difficult month so far. Twitter notifications were always popping up - Another day, another hashtag. It was exasperating. Last night, she had a long video chat with her best friends whom she met at Canvassity in Ouagadougou two years ago. Of the many participants representing different countries on the continent, they, an unlikely bunch, gravitated towards each other. Five young brilliant minds, all driven and passionate about their home country and Africa.
Last night, they talked at length about The Egyptian protest, the Nigerian EndSars protest, and The Namibian protest against gender-based violence and while they were still on, they received news from Congo. Mining and child slavery were at an all-time high. There was rising pre-election tension in Ivory Coast and Zanzibar. The call lasted four hours, in between tears and heated arguments, the last topic discussed was their decision to make a difference. She unlocked her phone, and the headline read: Outrage from African leaders as plans of Africa’s Five to form rival United African Nations (UAN) leaked. Some of the continent’s bright minds unite to bypass old structures and usher in… It was the other headline that drew her attention however: Planet Earth to disintegrate and become uninhabitable in forty years, say Scientists… Nuhailah called her friends.

Sama was walking down the narrow corridor from the paediatric ward to the other end of the hospital, clad in his ugly green scrubs and white crocs. He had just been moved to Gynae. Things were usually messy in that department, he hoped that it would be his last time. He was so caught up fantasising about his graduation from medical school that he almost ran into a nurse, the matron, who was rushing out of the front door of the Gynaecology ward. "Desole madame " He apologised to the big woman who looked angry enough to beat him up. "regarde ou tu vas?" She hissed and walked away. Feisty, Sama thought to himself, Pumza had to hear of this - she loved trying to create reasons why people act the way they do. He pulled out his phone to text her. His lock screen showed he had missed several calls from her, Vurzie, Otieno and Nuhailah. He tried calling Otieno, but he was on another call. A few moments later, a group call request from Nuhailah came through.
Pumza popped on his screen wearing a straw hat, dark shades and an army green dress. It looked like she was still at the mining site in the Western region of Ghana. Vurzie looked exhausted. She must have pulled another all-nighter on her computer screen. She did not look happy to be awake. Nuhailah was in her home office, and Otieno walked in behind her, phone to his ear.

Salut mes amis. How are you guys? Is everything alright?”

Photo by Karsten Würth on Unsplash

January 2050

From the rooftop of her office, Nuhailah watched the fast cars drive by with muted swooshes. The winter sun hung like a ripe Agbalumo from the horizon, pulsing lazily as it went to sleep. A deep sense of pride welled up within her as she looked at her city, Rabat. Thirty years of blood, sweat and tears had indeed yielded some fruits. It was almost unbelievable that less than twenty years ago, they were plagued by water scarcity. In contrast, they now had the world’s most effective and innovative irrigation systems. The desert-encroached Southern part of the country was supplied by water from a central reservoir for that region. Using the old Hassan towers as models for water reservoirs was both ingenious and practical. It helped settle the nomadic herders and put a lot of ease on the constrained relationship between the two parts of the country. Their plans have long been duplicated across the North, East and West African parts that were dealing with desertification and its encroachment.

Nuhailah was born into a herder’s family and she was raised catering for the flock and shepherding. Her mother succeeded in persuading Omar to let their only daughter go to her sister in Casablanca for good education. “It’s a multilingual city, full of so many opportunities. And she will grow up with Fatima’s children who are her age. Don’t you want more for her?” Hafsatu would plead and guilt trip him every day until he finally gave in. That was how she left home to live with her aunt at 10. By the time Nuhailah was 17 years old, she knew what she wanted more than anything was to change the world and influence policies that deal with climate action. She was a fast learner and quickly picked up four languages other than Arabic by 20. She was fluent in French, English, Portuguese and Mandarin Chinese. That was how she went from being a farm girl to a CEO and Morocco’s first female professor emeritus in Climate studies.

Nuhailah was proud of her husband, UAN’s first leader. Otieno, who was going to show up any minute now.

She was just shy of 22 the first time they met. A passionate and opinionated girl, a self-acclaimed activist who gave the Kenyan grief at every turn. She smiled wistfully as she remembered the first time she saw his flashy-dimpled smile that caused her heart to melt every day. He was the action to her appeal. She was all for laws and policy-making, he was about the grit and work of implementing them and following up. The first few months of their friendship were spent arguing back and forth between the most important parts of change-making. It wasn’t until Pumza told them to work together and see if this and that would be better than this or that.

She glanced at the big timepiece visible from every part of the city, it was time for the UAN’s annual meeting.

Hi there, thank you for reading this far. I had to break the story into two so it didn’t get too long and exhausting. This was an entry into the first and last Climate flash fiction contest I entered. We were to reimagine Africa @ 2050, having responded to the climate crisis. My story got shortlisted. Please click here to read the rest of the story. Oh and you know, I want to know what you think of the characters. What did you like the most etc? Thank you for your feedback. I am restarting my fictional publishing journey so your feedback is crucial. Thank you.

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Balpolam Idi

Live, Love, Give. But most importantly, Dream. Learner. Teacher. Wanderer.