Welcome to the Mindscape Department, Museum of Esheran History!
Here, we have recreated the thought processes of several important figures of Esheran origin over the last century. Our vision is to preserve the values of our past heroes, so that we never become too complacent in our hard-won peace, and regress into darker times.
To find the Nigerian Ministry of Health’s full certifications, follow this link.
Would you like to try our featured personality for this week? It is none other than the Esheran Liberator, Clanleader Jhavvhuana!
Click here to start.
The Humans are holding guns. The barrels are trained on you.
You are Clanleader Jhavvhuana.
A thin trail of smoke curls upwards from the tip of one of the guns. The bullet shell hits the dirty concrete. The blast of the warning shot still rings loudly against your eardrums.
“You have been warned,” growls the man who fired the warning shot. Deep fissures of crow’s feet circle his bloodshot eyes. He’s been drinking. Humans have always been prone to substance dependence. It does not change the fact that these men will riddle you with holes. To them you’re just another green-faced Esheran in a shabby rental Atmospheric Regulating suit.
“This is a strict no-alien zone!” the man yells again, and his fingers flirt with the trigger of his rifle. It’s easy to see the bloodlust in the eyes of his comrades. You feel their perverse grins, even though they’ve tied bandanas over their noses and mouths. These men are no strangers to asserting their dominance—brute force—on Esheran people, but now their batons have become guns and they are itching to try it.
To make an example—or quick sport—of the foolish Esheran that left the fences without authorization.
This is when you conclude that things must change.
That is not completely accurate. Clanleader Jhavvhuana had already reached the conclusion a few hours prior. Even before she neared their fences.
Yet, if you are to understand the motives of the Liberator that led to the Esheran Revolution and its bloody battles for a seat in the Human democracy, you will need to go deeper into her psyche. To the singular event that birthed the iconic revolutionary, pariah, saviour.
A note of warning: Full immersion may result in varying side effects, some of which include dissociative personality disorders, albeit temporary. Many others have left the simulation with the righteous indignation of Clanleader Jhavvhuana, especially after experiencing the events of pre-democratic Esheran culture. As stated earlier, these are only temporary.
However, if you do experience an alteration of your neuronal exospace, then you will be detained. The Mindscape Department, Museum of Esheran History will not be held liable for the emergence of another Liberator. The times are different now.
Find more information here.
Do you still wish to continue?
“MEMORANDUM ON UPDATED COSTS OF HOUSING CELLS IN THE REFUGEE-RESERVED AREAS (RRAs)”
Your eyes scan through the lines of text on the iPad again. The screen pixelates over the spot where your digits squeeze the device as you try to keep your composure.
“Do you not understand the Human-English text?” the skinny man sitting on the opposite end of the table asks. In Human-English. There’s a cigarette between his chapped black lips, and the narcotic’s foul fumes hang over both your heads in stale clouds of poisonous smoke. It disperses the ugly yellow beams of the lone incandescent bulb on the ceiling, and you wonder whether the CCTV in the corner of the room can even see past the smog.
The “room” itself is a rectangular box. It makes you uneasy.
You are Clanleader Jhavvhuana.
When the summons came to the RRA last night for a meeting with all clanleaders, you suspected the Administration would be sending an actual Human, and not the liaison robot you’ve come to expect in meetings like these.
You, however, were not expecting this.
“You’re increasing rent?” you hiss.
“In summary, yes.”
You take a deep breath of the recycled air behind your helmet before grinding your teeth. This cannot be happening. Your people have already exceeded the carrying capacity of the shared ecosystem…and instead of making more cells, the RRA’s administration chooses to do this?
“That wasn’t the deal my clan agreed to,” you say, straining your vocal cords to match the intonation of the alien language. “Please explain this, Agent Eze.”
Agent Eze rubs his palms together. “As you can well see, the ogas at the top are increasing the cost for each housing cell in Ajègúnlé RRA.” His fingers look bony and sickly, and his dark skin resembles the bark of a withering old tree. Not so different from the hands of the agents who work at the Employment Registry. The ones who count the daily wages of your people by hand, licking their grimy fingertips as they thumb through tattered five-hundred and one-thousand naira notes.
One time, when you were younger—and still hopeful about this blasted planet—you had asked Ivvwa why the Humans did not use machines to count the money they paid to the Esherans. You questioned the alien government’s decision to deny your people bank accounts that would properly integrate the Esherans into their economy. The former clanleader smiled as she told you that the aliens think the Esherans will hack their machines. That the neuronal exospace your people communicate with will interfere with their robots’ intelligence.
It sounded like a flimsy excuse to you then. An Esheran would never violate the sacred Mindspace in such a manner. Even if their very lives were on the line.
However, it wasn’t until later that you understood that machine counting and bank accounts make it more difficult for the greedier Humans to pilfer untraceable pieces of one-thousand naira—or two—from each of your people’s ‘chicken-feed’ allowances. Then proceed to tell the Esheran workforce that there was an error in processing their wages for the day and they would, regrettably, have to make do with empty pockets and even emptier bellies.
“It’s only temporary, you see,” Agent Eze continues. “With the revenue, the Administration plans to expand the refugee settlements, improving the standards of living.”
“No offence, but that’s what they were planning to do last time.”
You recalled how the administration overseeing Ajègúnlé RRA thought they could just install new atmosphere-purification systems in the tiny ‘face-me-I-slap-you’ cells, using pre-existing gas lines. Cooking gas lines.
“The pure oxygen canisters were defective. The explosions took out three whole blocks! Put most of my clanspeople on the streets,” you say to him.
“Look, Clanleader Jah…Java…”
“Jhavvhuana,” you correct him.
“Right. Surely you can see why that would cause a spike in the cost of available housing?”
“There was no reimbursement! I live with two partners, an elderly clansman, and four children who lost their caretakers to the explosions. This is a cell that was originally designed to house one Human.”
You don’t add that the entire RRA is just a repurposed slum. Instead, you say:
“The overcrowding is putting a strain on our air, which we have to pay for every month. Which, by the way, becomes more expensive with each day!”
“If you have any complaints regarding that, then direct them to the Registries for Finance or Natural Resources.”
You scream in frustration. To the Human, it is a cacophony to his eardrums—a wavelength just slightly higher than his tolerance range. He jerks back on his chair, eyes wide with one gnarled finger pointing threateningly. “There are rules, madam! No Esheran-speak!”
The fear in his eyes speaks volumes; even though you’re clad in an AR suit—that you now rent for four-hundred naira per day, compared to the original one-fifty. Besides, Esherans do not go around mind-controlling people. It’s sacrilegious. I’m just swearing, relax for fuck’s sake.
Ivvwa was right. The aliens treat the Esherans badly because they’re afraid.
“There must be something you can do.” You try to adjust your tone so that it sounds less belligerent. “Please help us. I was under the impression that an actual Human would have some real clout, not those machines and their preprogramed one-liners.”
The man blinks at you once, in obvious surprise at your fluency. When Humans see the green faces of the Esherans behind the helmets, they imagine a planet engulfed in a war too far away for them to care. They hear your sonorous speech and assume that your kind cannot articulate Human-Language; Human-Igbo, Human-Yoruba, as endlessly diverse as Human-Language is. So unlike the Mindspace that elevates Esheran-speak and communicates feelings that no Human-Language has words for.
Before Ivvwa passed her mantle onto you, she had instructed you to ensure the clan’s survival. Language could not afford to be a barrier.
“I’ve informed the other clanleaders,” Agent Eze says. “They’ve taken it in stride. My only advice for you is to take the deal on the table as is. There are enough of you Esherans willing to fill any spaces you fail to remit rent for. It’s up to your clanspeople to raise money or leave.”
His words are almost as toxic to your skin as the atmosphere of this polluted planet. “And how are we to raise that money? The best of us make four thousand daily! That’s doing twenty-two-hour work! And the inflation seems to affect only Esherans, why?”
“Take that up with the Registry of Finance, madam.”
You have to curl your fist to keep from clawing at his pathetic face. “What can you do for fuck’s sake?”
He takes a panicked step back. “Like I said, my ogas have all the power. I’m only a messenger.”
At this rate of decline in the RRA, a riot is inevitable. A sinking feeling curls within your gut at the thought. Could this be intentional? Are the Humans only looking for an excuse to open hostilities on the Esheran clans? The thought terrifies you, but it isn’t beyond reason. Especially not after they confiscated all the Esheran nomadic vessels for “study and preservation.” There are already too many of your people in their detention facilities. Troublemakers, as they’ve been labelled. If the clans choose to riot now… No, the Esherans are too defenceless to even fight back.
“So, there was never any room for discussion, was there?” Your tone is now icy.
“I’m afraid not. But if you truly have the interests of your clanspeople at heart, then you have to find a way to make things work.”
It has never been their problem, and it never will be. Ivvwa had repeated those words to you as you took the mantle of leadership from her aged hands. You are the only one who can protect your clan. Your people. One can only turn the other cheek for so long.
But what can I do?
You don’t know how far you’re willing to go.
Or do you?
Your consciousness projects outward in an arc, refined and surgical. You know the Humans have been wearing bio-implants to cancel out the effects of the Esheran Mindspace. What do they know? After all, nobody can really defend against something they have never witnessed.
It happens instantly, the imposition of your will against Agent Eze’s mind. You bite the inside of your cheek so suddenly, you draw blood. A cold shiver rakes down your back as the implication takes form in your mind. You are violating the Mindspace. A taboo akin to cold-blooded murder.
Even Ivvwa would never allow this.
But…but Ivvwa is not here to see the injustice your people face every day. To see how far the Esherans have fallen. You have to make the Administration understand! Too many are depending on you.
The Human stands there, dazed and completely unaware that you have invaded his cortical pathways. You can do better for your people, but you need to talk to someone with more authority. You need to go deeper into the Registry of Land Administration.
No. You need to go deeper into their government. Esherans are people, too. Refugees or not, your kind deserves a say in their governance. If you will become a pariah for trying to make this happen, then so be it.
Agent Eze nods his head once. You swallow the lump in your throat as he pulls out a keycard from his pocket and the door behind him slides open.
“There is someone inside you can talk to,” he gestures. Almost…reverently?
It is for the people, you tell yourself.
But is the road to hell not paved with good intentions?
No. You neither have the time nor luxury to dissect these conflicting emotions inside your chest.
Instead, you rise; and follow Agent Eze through the door. Toward the fence.
Do you understand now, even just a little?
You stand now, in a field of alien corpses, in a pool of their red blood. Agent Eze is appalled. You, not so much.
You bend and pick one of their machines of death. It reeks of fire and iron. “Agent Eze, where are they keeping the detained Esherans?”
“I thought you wanted to see the higher-ups…”
“I do,” you arm the weapon. “But I won’t be going alone.”
Hello. Are you okay? Do I need to contact the authorities?