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Exploring Malawian culture through Sci-Fi: Mombera Rising preview

In the rich tapestry of Malawian literature, Ekari Mbvundula Chirombo’s upcoming anthology, “Mombera Rising” promises to weave together intricate threads of indigenous culture, environmentalism, and speculative fiction.

In the book is a fusion of tradition and imagination where Chirombo’s narrative arc traverses three distinct but interconnected stories, all set in a futuristic landscape. Drawing inspiration from the indigenous Ngoni community, delving deep into their cultural ethos, exploring how their beliefs shape their interactions with nature.

The book is scheduled for release on March 8, 2024, and Chirombo’s work ventures into uncharted territory, offering readers a glimpse into the complex relationships between the Ngoni people of Mzimba District and their environment.

Inkosi Ya Makhosi Mmbelwa V of the district expressed satisfaction with the work of art.

“Imagine a Ngoni rebirth. Imagine a decolonized future where nature meets technology. Imagine a Kingdom rising in the North,” he said on his Facebook page whilst commending it.

Professor Garry Peterson of Stockholm University’s Environmental Sciences department also commended Chirombo’s efforts, lauding the anthology as a catalyst for societal change.

“These stories can serve as a model for other collaborations between scientists and artists,” Peterson remarked.

The genesis of “Mombera Rising” can be traced back to a collaborative research project initiated by the University of Stockholm (Sweden) and the University of Witwatersrand (South Africa) in 2021.

Tasked with envisioning the future, Chirombo, alongside fellow writer Muthi Nhlema, embarked on a journey of cultural immersion and speculative inquiry.

The result? A collection of narratives that transcend time and space, offering poignant reflections on the human condition.

Among the anthology’s highlights is “Khanyisile”, a tale that unravels the enigmatic journey of a princess confronted with a profound revelation. Through her eyes, readers are transported to a realm where tradition collides with the inexorable march of progress.

Likewise “Hiraeth” by Nhlema beckons us into a world ravaged by conflict, where an elder’s steadfast connection to nature becomes a beacon of hope amidst chaos.

However, it is “Mombera Kingdom” that emerges as the crowning jewel of Chirombo’s anthology. Here, a philanthropist embarks on a transformative odyssey, discovering that humility and empathy are the true currencies of enlightenment. Through this narrative lens, Chirombo confronts societal norms and values, challenging readers to reconsider their preconceptions about identity and purpose.

This literary piece is also Supported by the Swedish Research Council and the Future Ecosystems for Africa program at the University of Witwatersrand.

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