Cinque II

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

Balpolam Idi
6 min readNov 27, 2023

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Photo by Hidayat Abisena on Unsplash

January 2050

Sama was waiting for Pumza and Vurzie at the arrival terminal. The jungle theme was a new addition he thought, something you would never see inside an airport 25 years ago. Go-Green Africa was thriving, now that the fate of the planet depended on it. Everything green and living was now highly valued and used across the world. The Kinshasa International wing was given a tropical forest revamp and it had tourists gaping in awe upon arrival. None of the plants were plastic and it boasted of exotic species peculiar to the Congolese and some of its neighbouring countries. Glancing at the big digital timer, he sighed. Seventeen minutes. They were seventeen minutes late.

Even though those women were walking superheroes, and Wonder Woman had nothing on them, except, of course, punctuality he thought, chuckling outwardly. Niger Republic and Cameroon needed UAN to review the new dam plans and the afforestation projects. He hoped Nuhailah was able to drag Otieno to this meeting. He missed the last two because of the UN and World Economic Forum meetings.

Vurzie, the tall and well-rounded Nigerian woman, was passionate about two things; tech and water. She led a tech and infrastructure merger to solve and monitor dams in West Africa, create drainage systems and amplify the use of hydroelectricity. She always spoke of water reverently like some sort of deity. Sama attributed it to her ancestry since he visited her home in Lamurde, Adamawa, years ago when they thought they’d get married,

Looking up, Sama sighted Vurzie sporting her signature 2020s tech look with a colourful headwrap in an updo, walking hurriedly. Pumza, strutting gingerly and slightly behind her, was clad in a maroon jumpsuit he was certain SA’s top designers had custom-made. He headed towards them in his brisk, military-style walk while Vurzie rushed towards him, squealing like a schoolgirl, leapt into his arms, catching him off guard; they almost fell over. Her red AI sensitive box in tow picked up her speed but not her sudden stop, crashed into them. Behind her, Pumza laughed from deep inside her belly.

Pumza was a petite woman whose skin was like honey both in colour and texture, with a melodious voice like a wind chime. The South African, driven to maximise the benefits of mining in Africa started the MineAfriq Network, which was majorly responsible for stopping all of Africa’s mineral exploitation by 2031. MineAfriq birthed policies that made all companies sign the CARE agreement, paying 37% of the profits to the development & growth of the immediate and surrounding community — it worked like a charm. Morocco went from hosting car companies to the hub of electric cars and trains for the world, while Sama’s country changed forever. Congo was set free to use her resources for her growth.

Hey Sama-na-yaji” Vurzie said playfully after he had put her down.

Hey Vous-avez” he retorted with a mischievous glint in his eyes. Bending to wrap Pumza in a bear hug, he said “Sawubona Pumza ‘’

Salut Sama” she replied, not unkindly.

“You guys are aware that you are no longer 25 right? Aren’t you about to be a grandpa?” She added, looking at the pair fondly.

“Age is in the mind my friend,” Vurzie responded in her faux sagely voice, causing them to laugh again.

Okay, let’s go” he stated as he led them out of the terminal to the park by the left where his car was hovering. Using his smart beaded bracelet, he lowered it, and opened the doors for the women to get in while he put their luggage in the trunk. People had developed easier technological alternatives to everything including walking, but not the hauling of luggage — it was a mystery to him.

Vurzie, not one for patience, queried “Are you going to say anything about the big break in your research or do we have to roll and beg before you share?

Sama got into the driver’s seat, ensuring they were all buckled up before he took off. The initial lurch earned him a few colourful words in Xhosa and Chobbo. Laughing like the evil genius he was, “Yes Vurz, I’ll tell you.” he said empathically.

My research in phytomedicine may alter the fate of humanity. Thanks to Otieno for sharing his special Kenyan tea with me many years ago, and allowing me to practically live in his ancestral home for the past twelve years.” He paused, reliving those moments.

We have harnessed Africa’s horticulture to bring the ancient art of our traditional medicine and I cannot take all the credit for this.”

Ohh look at you being modest” mocked Pumza, which earned her a chuckle from Vurzie

When are we going to take off for Malawi? I hope Nuhailah and Otieno make it early so we can catch up.” Pumza asked while she fiddled with her rings.

Train leaves tonight,” Sama replied.

Photo by Martin Fu on Unsplash

Flying over Kinshasa, each of them was arrested by the beauty before them. The streets and city were brilliantly lit by solar-powered LEDs. Most buildings were more communal than service. Big buildings lined with earthen bricks, replicas of old architecture laced with modern facilities were littered below them. They flew past parks and city monuments.

Soon, they got to Sama’s house. His family was eager to entertain them as he added his bags in the car. His children were inquiring about their friends, Vurzie’s daughter and Pumza’s sons. While they chatted away, Otieno appeared on TV. Nissi, Sama’s wife turned the volume up “…Africa has now risen to the glory it always sought. We stopped taking from the planet. Instead, chose to use what she had given us so generously. The Sun, Water, Wind and arable land. FAO has certified that our food production and distribution to the world has risen by 98.2% while food wastage is now less than 8% across the continent. Our marine, games and plant reserves have given the whole world a fighting chance.” He smiled his flashy wicked smile for effect. The camera zoomed in on him. “We saved our planet because Africa united. Africa’s Five, from its different regions, North, South, East, West and Central Africa showed us that we have the answers within us. If we would look past ourselves, we would see that we are really one people. We went from fighting corrupt and incompetent leadership to building state-of-the-art systems and structures. The earth might take decades to heal, there remains high levels of toxicity in the atmosphere, but it is possible.” As he closed, thunderous applause broke out from the audience and from Sama’s home. Otieno had an arresting charisma and aura. They looked at each other, now spotting wrinkles and greying hairs, but all they could see was themselves some thirty years ago, eager, passionate, daring and willing to topple the status quo.

The end oh. Thank you for reading. Tell me what you think. Would you love to see Africa leading climate action? What kind of world do you envision? Shout Out to the real-life Vurzie and Pumza I know. They’re really brilliant creative women making change in their spaces. If you’ve read my book, you know that I am concerned about the planet and I’d love to know what your stance on this matter is. In case you missed it, Cinque is the French word for Five, but funkified a bit. Lol

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Balpolam Idi

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