By Ugwunna Obike
Several seismic vibrations shook the land all over the world. Cities began to fall like sandcastles as massive structures caved into the earth and the statue of liberty fell on its face.
This is a context from the book Darksand, the first sci-fi fiction novel written by African Jewel, Fitila, depicting the possibility of humans making sea-city its habitat.
It is a fitting reminder to what may likely happen to EKO Atlantic where the government has sand filled and built up the Bar Beach. Perhaps another Darksand waiting to be recreated.
However, Fitila’s book denotes near collapse of the ecosystem occasioned by its abject neglect, which the sustainable development goals 13 established by the United Nations in 2015 as a result called for urgent action in combating the climate change and its impact or else the world would wake up one day to hear some creatures telling humans: “You are a failure,” as we find Sara confronting Adam in Darksand.
It reveals the ancient connection between humans and the concealed world of plants, as well as climate change and what can possibly happen if we keep destroying the ecosystem. It records that since the industrial age, humans have contaminated the atmosphere, land, and sea. This brings to mind the issue of open defecation, discharge of effluent into the environment and the consequences of flooding whenever there’s a heavy downpour, leading to humans facing imminent extinctions not from the outer space, nuclear warheads but the calmest and most complex organisms like plants which no one thought could cause a problem.
The storyline centres on humanity that doesn’t know what plants were capable of doing until it was too late. The ecosystem was fast depreciating and this triggered something in the plants which had happened several times but was unknown to humans. Their only chance of survival was to wipe out humanity. But how difficult could that be, knowing that humans depend entirely on plants to survive?
Leading the art in this book which is set on a Phoenix Island called Freedom Town is the protagonist, Prof. Adam Stone, an asthmatic professor of Botany who is joined by Allen Smith and Truth.
On the flip side is Ifa Grange, another botanist, whose father was a herbalist before he was killed in the war. He is joined by Reed Poseidon (p. 347) who took total control of the cities through propaganda and force.
Freedom Town like Phoenix rose from decay and bloodbath. It recorded that during the civil war, the heart of the people became the heart of beasts, tattered lifeless bodies in their hundreds littered the streets.
The peace the people fought for is narrowed down to the one their state of mind could summon, if it could. Two of the characters in the story —Koran Azan and Aja —contended that no one has ever left freedom town and wholly returned alive: “It is true that they now have more trees than men. And just when it seemed they were rebuilding the world, their innate drive for destruction unleashed the final blow when the war broke out. Cities turned to ashes by bombs and biological weapons and all they could do was look at them from distance.”
The new world of David and Adolf emerged in Killeen bemoaning the drastic increase in the number of people murdered all around the United States leaving only five percent of the murderers in custody.
Professor Adam Stone retires in his laboratory armed with different samples of plants. He hears voices of mockers as they narrate moments of torment, torture, heartbreaks and set back. His theory and research moved outside the parametres of sciences into fantasy.
The author interspersed his diction with pidgin English in the idea sharing discussion by the trio of Koran, Aja and Ade. “You never talk sef, but I don tire for your paparazzi,” Koran said as he shares an idea with Ade and Aja.
The author has, through this book, raised the consciousness of the reader that, if we do not take care of the living organisms in our environment, they might, one day, rise up to wage war against us.
Darksand is laced with high description. The use of simile helps to flower it and makes the reader want to read it to the end. One noticeable error in the book. The book is recommended to students of environment sciences and writers interested in fiction stories.