Nandi watched the sun rise through her villa bedroom windows. The outside air slightly blew through them, and it smelled like fresh savannah plains and rocky waterfalls.
Suddenly, she caught herself about to cry, sat up in her bed, planted her feet on the floor, waited 30 seconds, and stood up. She then placed both her hands on the top of her hips, inhaled, and extended her chest upward. At that moment she felt a stretch in the middle of her back. Nandi’s muscles were tight she thought; however, she was confused as to whether that was due to her body being fatigued or her mind being depressed. Even Unkulunkulu, the Zulu Creator God, she thought would not know.
Nandi stood five foot eight inches tall, had a pear shaped body and flawless bronze colored skin. The only feature that made her uneasy was her lanky hair; a sure sign that she was not fully Zulu. A trait she hid whenever she was outside her house. Other than that, she was perceived by others as a very beautiful Zulu woman. A woman from a family of respected soldiers, amabutho. Although Nandi was not one herself of course since women could not be soldiers, amabutho, in Zululand.
Nandi took a deep breath and yelled her housekeeper’s name, “Fazana!” She heard nothing. She then looked around her room and felt abandoned. Her husband, Tshaka, had not been with her for over a month. It was as if he had given up on her, and the room echoed that assumption.
Tshaka was a warrior at heart. At the age of 17 he had been deployed to Scandinavia, iYurophi, straight out of the War College and had 9 successive deployments after that. For that reason, he was allowed to have 10 Zulu wives. He chose four, Nandi being the last. Indeed, he was a rarity. Most Zulu men only participated in 2 deployments, and those that went out on more, selected only 4 wives at most, notwithstanding the rare exceptions.
Nevertheless, although there was a requirement to serve in the military to obtain a wife, Tshaka primarily served in the defense force because he deeply loved protecting his nation from non-Zulus, Abelungu. He thought of his service, as practically all Zulu men did, as a duty to his nation. A duty Tshaka was certainly built for.
Tshaka was burly and bullnecked with dark brown skin, a nose that resembled a panther’s, and a large head that looked as if it was directly attached to his shoulders. Tshaka was everything Nandi wanted physically in a man but all she dreaded emotionally.
Tshaka was unlike her father who could be moved by moral suasion. Quite the opposite, Tshaka would be highly offended if a person tried to persuade him in such a way. He was a man that held the belief that might was right and no other notion of the ways of the world could be suggested otherwise to him. Thus, any anger, disappointment, or general love Nandi had towards Tshaka would not have made a difference to him anyway. He was a man that saw women as beings whom he served by protecting, and they in turn had to do the same by being domestics.
Tshaka was the 3rd born of Dingane kaSenzangakhona, an ibutho. He was a member of a group of men who looked for women to be helpers rather than confidants. Nandi wanted to be the latter.
As for Tshaka’s feelings for Nandi, they had waned. This attitude was not visited upon his other wives. He loved the first three very much, but Nandi was too stubborn and anti-Zulu, qualities he despised. His marriage to her was strictly political he reminded himself time and time again. Nandi’s father, Cetshwayo, was the Director General, uMqondisi Jikelele, of iYurophi, a land occupied by Abelungu, a group of people like the Zulu who not only survived the Atomic Age, but the sun rays that followed.
Cetshwayo’s allegiance and support was necessary in a society built on social consensus between the Zulu ibutho families. Thus, any actions that brought those families closer together were favored. However, Tshaka and Nandi’s marriage seemed to be doomed from the beginning.
Although Cetshwayo was a great tactician, he was a woefully poor father thought Tshaka. The female he raised displayed remorse and pity for Abelungu, far outside the acceptable range of a Zulu woman who pitied those who were downtrodden. He also questioned whether she was fully Zulu since she had no recollection of her mother who supposedly died giving birth to her. Indeed, he constantly cursed himself for not inspecting her entire body before agreeing to marry her. It was more than a shock when he realized on his wedding night that the veil she wore over her hair was worn to hide her hair. Hair he believed single handedly was causing her problems conceiving a child with him.
So despite the fact that he already had 12 children, 6 of them boys; in Tshaka’s mind a union with a woman who could not bear children was a severe waste of his vigor. Moreover, the political and social unions between their two families were not as beneficial as he had hoped. Thus, Tshaka thought of Nandi as more of a burden than a benefit.
On the other hand, Nandi loved Tshaka despite his disposition. She was smitten with him and determined to have a child by him.
“Fazana, are you there?” Nandi yelled again.
Fazana, a jovial, rotund, 50 years old house keeper with dark reddish-brown skin rushed to Nandi’s bedroom door and began to speak in a slow and slightly irritated tone. ‘Sawubona Nandi, Good Morning Nandi, Did you sleep well?”
Nandi looked at her curiously and answered, “No! My whole body aches, especially my back. Is there any way for me to get that special medicine from your friend today?”
Fazana looked at Nandi incredulously, a look that conveyed how tired she was of the request. She looked at her and answered, “No! I refuse to do that anymore. I will not break the law again. The drugs will only mask your pain. You would be better off having healthy thoughts and praising Unkulunkulu.”
“Eish!” Nandi replied. “What good are you to me if you continue to tell me to remedy my aches with prayer?”
Fazana looked at her with a touch of empathy and answered, “You cannot fight tradition, and you cannot break the law. Even the daughter of Cetshwayo must feel pain.”
Fazana was referring to the cultural and civil laws that banned medical drugs of all kinds. The Zulus had decided that such drugs promoted the preservation of the weak and that nature’s natural cycle of cleansing the planet of unwanted or undesirable Zulus or non-Zulus was thwarted when medicine was utilized to cure a disease, or at least hide the symptoms. The Zulus believed if one was meant to live they would become healthy after an illness, and if they were not meant to live they would die. It was one of the main reasons their species was so healthy. And as a consequence, it was one of the main reasons why the Zulu world population even after the Atomic Age barely peaked over 100 million.
Nandi cleared her throat and said, “I guess I am just a little uneasy today. So many things to do, and I still need to go to the college.”
Fazana looked at her and nodded and said, “You must get ready for work, umsebenzi. You also must meet the family in Zulu north by sunset, and remember to cover your hair.”
Nandi smiled and walked towards her bathroom. Fazana left the room to prepare breakfast.
The flight to the campus took about 15 minutes. Her husband recently was allotted 3 hover crafts for the family. Nandi’s vehicle was large enough for four people and was made entirely of a light weight metal strong enough to withstand the unsuspecting chance of a head on collision. The electromagnetic propulsion system was so quiet that there was a requirement that a noise inducer be used during evening flights so inattentive people or animals below could hear it. The craft was shaped like an oval red flower, bright red. Nandi loved the vehicle and her daily flight to school but dreaded the school itself.
Nandi’s duty, as the Zulus called it, was teaching world history which she derisively called Zulu history. She was a professor, usolwazi, at one of the nation’s top War Colleges. It was a prestigious duty, yet, one she was fairly conflicted about having. It seems odd that a member of a family of amabutho would feel this way she thought to herself time and time again, but her concern for the treatment of Abelungu had grown over the years, and the college made no attempt, she thought, to address their rights to exist. Indeed, the curriculum was blatantly against that. It was anti- Abelungu.
While Nandi waited for her students, she looked around her classroom. It was a lofty sun-drenched wooden and stone structure that resembled a traditional Zulu hut. The beams that supported the roof and skylight had details that depicted Zulus in war formations; symbolic spears, umkhonto, and shields, isihlangu, that were meticulously inscribed with the actual names and dates of victories in battles. These huge oak beams resembled brown elephant trunks holding up the sun. They circled the entire structure letting only the sunlight escape their large presence. The windows which encompassed the entire circular interior opened and folded within each other, thus, maximizing the amount of fresh air circulating throughout the building. Moreover, the hut looked directly over the Mugabe River, a frequent distraction for students when a subject became too boring.
‘Did you see that movie “Land of the Pigs” last night?’ A young man named Mbeki asked another as they came into the classroom. The other young man only 17 named Thabo said, “Yes! It was amazing. The fight scenes were incredible. Also, did you see Caesar, the head pig eat the Zulu woman, that was incredible”, he said with widened eyes.
She listened to them with a sense of amazement and bewilderment. “These were smart young men”, she thought to herself. “The best of the nation; however, they did not realize that this film was anti-abelungu Zulu propaganda?!”
She then noted to her-self, “Or do they know that?”
After about 5 minutes all the students had filed into the building. There were a total of 10 of them. They all stood when their class sergeant, usayitsheni, entered. His name was Bhekizitha, he was an imposing young man, his name itself meant “watches for the enemy”, and that is what he certainly did. He was heavily built, about 6’5 with dark-chocolate colored skin and brown lion eyes. He raised his hand, thus singling the other warriors to say good morning, and in one melodious voice they said, “Sawubona Usolwazi!” The class had officially begun.
“Today class we will discuss the conditions, major players, and indubitably consequences that lead to the Atomic Age. Can someone please give a quick summary?”
Two young men raised their hands. Nandi picked Mbeki, she had hardly heard from him in class. “It was a war based on greed and vapid consumption; two Abelungu nations which were exceedingly immature, irrational, and psychopathic had chosen to use weapons that they thought would destroy the earth.”
“Good Mbeki, yet, you did not mention the names of the two nations, and what were they specifically fighting over.” Another young man raised his hand, his name was Madiba. He was one of the oldest in the class, 18, slightly-built and always thoughtful Nandi thought. If not for the compulsory service that the nation demanded of young men between the ages of 16 to 25, she doubted he would have ever chosen to be around the likes of the others. She singled him out to speak, “The war was between the Russian Federation and the States of America. It was a war that the Russians started on the grounds that they were culturally and morally superior to the States of America. The Russians believed that the SOA were imposing a morally bankrupt culture upon their own.”
“And when did this happen?” Nandi asked.
Bhekizitha spoke without asking, “20,000 years, Shakas, ago.”
Nandi looked at him, and coyishly shook her head in agreement.
“So we had two nations unleash weapons of mass destruction; what did the Zulus do?”
They all looked at each other in a confused fashion, slightly snaring at her suspiciously.
Bhekizitha spoke again. “We constructed dome cities under the guise that they would be wildlife conservation areas. When the bombs dropped in iYurobhu, many of us entered the domes.”
“And was there room for all Zulus?” Nandi emphasized with a click. “No, indeed, the record shows that Zulus killed Zulus. Those who were not ardent Zuluist were left to die in the “White Winter” Madiba blurted out.
“Yes, so it was not only the Abelungu who had become psychopathic, the Zulu had become psychopathic also”, Nandi continued.
The young men all looked at Bhekizitha for a response. He kept quiet and watched Nandi head towards the class screen to write a statement, “War devalues all”.
She then slightly raised her voice to the point that it screeched and said, ‘Why have I written this? Because war does devalue all, and you young men must learn to be warriors but also refrain from being so.’
A young man by the name of Zwelethu, Bhekizitha’s second in command calmly asked Nandi: “What does this have to do with the Atomic Age? If Zulus were killed by other Zulus that was due to the actions of the Abelungu. You Usolwazi are interpreting the record wrong. Those if any Zulus killed during the beginning of the Atomic Age were collateral damage. Collateral damage produced by Abelungu. “
Nandi responded, “There is certainly a case for that argument, but I am trying to point out to you, young men, young men who will be placed in important decision positions within the Zulu nation that you must be able to forgive the Abelungu for their past deeds.’
Bhekizitha this time raised his hand. Nandi singled him to talk. He looked at her and said,” Ukuthethelela ngaphandle befuna ubulungisa ukuvuza ukungabi nabulungisa (To forgive without seeking justice is to reward injustice).”
A slight murmur of mm’s could be heard about the room, all the young men shook their heads in agreement, accept Madiba.