One of our staff has written a fantasy tale set in Botswana we will be putting it up in serial form over the next few weeks
PART ONE HISTORY
At the beginning of human time, which is longer than long, long ago but not as long as time before humans, there was a large freshwater lake in the middle of the southern part of the continent now known as Africa. The waters of the lake were full of fish and its shores abounded with animal life. There were kudu and impala, wildebeest and zebra, all of which humans had learnt to hunt for food. There were also lions and leopards that fed off these animals and could pose a threat to an unwary human. However, this was a very pleasant place to spend one’s time and the advantages of having fresh water, shady trees, and an abundance of food far outweighed the disadvantages of becoming a lion dinner. Settlements slowly started to grow up around the lake. Large acacia trees provided plenty of shade in summer and the abundance of grass not only meant the animals had plenty to eat but they could also use it to make nice cosy shelters for the winter.
Life carried on peacefully and idyllically for many years. People did not have to take long journeys in search of water and food. They caught fish in the lake and hunted the animals that came down to drink. They also used the water from the lake to grow crops. It was a land of plenty and it was not necessary to spend all one’s time trying to survive. So, as always happens with humans, the easier things became the more restless, discontented, and selfish they became. They started to build larger and more complicated shelters, each one trying to outdo the other in size and design. All this required that they take greater and greater amounts of water out of the lake, not one of them ever considering that it may one day dry up.
As knowledge of the lake grew in other parts of the continent more and more people started to make their way to its shores. There had been a nasty drought in the north, so those who could undertook the long journey south in the hope of a better life. The people who lived near the lake realised that they could profit from this and prevented these newcomers from having access to its waters. These newcomers brought with them domestic animals, cows and goats, something the lake people did not possess. Desperately needing water they bartered with their cows and their goats. As this became more and more lucrative the lake people became more and more ingenious. They invented clever ways of getting the water out of the lake with reed pipes and pulley systems. They also made fishing nets so they wouldn’t have to sit for hours catching fish. The trouble with these nets was that they caught all the fish, both big and small; they would take out the big ones and leave the others to die on the shore.
When the fish stocks started to deplete they made boats from the tall trees on the shore and paddled further out into the lake to drop their nets.
Now at this time in humankind’s history there was a very powerful god named Molemo. He controlled the water and therefore life itself. Molemo did not only look after the needs of humans, he also kept watch over all the other living creatures and plants. Molemo had been watching the goings on at the lake for a while and was starting to get very grumpy with the way man was conducting himself. He sent in a few warning storms that whipped up the waters of the lake, destroying boats and blowing the roofs off houses. People did not heed these warnings. They built stronger boats and secured their roofs. They then continued to waste the waters of the lake, not bothering about other living creatures. Again Molemo became angry and this time he sent in a much larger and more terrifying storm; it not only destroyed boats and houses but also killed many people. He caused the waters of the lake to rise up in a huge wave, flooding the houses on the shore, drowning the occupants. Those who did not lose their lives lost all their possessions.
For a short time after this the survivors were very humble. They knew that Molemo was angry with them and why, and used their resources with care. But then as always happens when things go well for a while, people forget and they slipped back into their old bad, selfish habits, assuming that they were superior to all living creatures and that they could control the elements.
This time Molemo had had enough. The people had not only used up most of the water in the lake, they had abused it as well. They had used it as a dumping ground for their waste, and the water was now so polluted that the few fish that were left were dying, and it smelt terrible. At first Molemo had hoped that human beings themselves would see what they were doing and that they would ultimately be the losers and destroy themselves, but then he realised that he was being hopelessly optimistic and decided to intervene before they destroyed everything else as well. He knew that in doing what he was about to do in order to punish humans he would also destroy other forms of life, but he also knew that not everything would disappear and that the strong of each species would survive and adapt.
It was a beautiful clear day. The men were out on the lake in their boats fishing for what fish were left, children were playing on the shore, and the woman were gossiping as they washed clothes or just sat around enjoying the weather. Suddenly the wind started to get up and they noticed a dark black cloud on the horizon. They watched in stunned fascination as the cloud turned into what looked like a spinning top and sped in the direction of the lake. As it got closer they saw with horror that the spinning black cloud was sucking up everything in its path. There was a deathly hush as everyone absorbed this simultaneously, and then panic. People ran in different directions grabbing wailing children and whatever possessions they could. The men on the lake paddled at breakneck speed trying to get back to the shore. For some reason they felt that if they got inside their houses and shut the doors they would be safe. This, however, did not prove to be the case. The cloud came in as if it were a ginormous vacuum cleaner. Everything was sucked up into its vast innards. Houses, people, boats, whatever was in its way. It whirled around the lake and when everything had been cleared, it moved into the center, draining every last drop of water. It then made off into the desert and disappeared into the sand, taking with it all evidence that there had ever been human life around the lake.
Over time the creatures that live under the sand devoured the contents of the cloud, munching through the wooden boats, houses, and corpses. The only thing that remained was a small hard stone in the top like shape of the ginormous black cloud. This stone was not, however, black but clear and dazzlingly beautiful, looking very much like a cut diamond. It held the waters of the lake and with it a great power. It was destined to transfer this power to whoever found it first. Having this stone would enable this person to control the weather, bringing rain or drought to the land.
After creating the tornado Molemo did not hang around. He had other things to do and had had enough of humans for the time being. He knew it would be a long, long time before they got to the point where they started causing trouble again. One day someone would find the stone. Then he would return to advise that person on how to handle the great power it had and hopefully not make the same mistakes again.
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