Kingdom of the Paper Sun - a fantasy
Audi dan Zaki is a young colonial official from the Kworra Republic posted to a settlement on the Cold Coast. The Kworra Republic is no secretive Wakanda – far from shying away from the world, Kworra is the proud owner of a vast global empire upon which the sun never sets.
Our hapless hero expects to have a jolly time bringing civilisation to the white people but instead finds himself confronted with the grimmer realities of colonial life: ennui, disease, climate, wild animals, rampaging natives, gun-slinging settlers, mutinous soldiers and pining for the woman of his dreams. It’s not easy being a colonizer.
Kingdom draws its inspiration from the back catalogues of colonial literature and film. From Biggles to Heart of Darkness, from African Queen to Zulu, Kingdom checks the classic colonial themes, repurposing them as adventure stories for an African hero.
The idea for Kingdom arrived quite out of the blue. It was August 2003 and I was working in my Berlin kitchen with the radio on. I was listening to some man on the BBC talking about colonialism and how very beneficial it had been for the colonized, listing the advantages of Western medicine, agriculture, education and so on. It was all good, no mention of the ugly side of the colonizing business, and I was annoyed. In my annoyance I shouted at the man on the radio, How would you like it if it happened to you? I’m sure he didn’t hear me but in that instant the idea of Africa colonizing Europe popped into my head. I saw a story.
A story that appealed to me. What would such a world look like? I knew immediately that it had to be Nigeria as the colonial power and Berlin as the colonial outpost. They say write what you know and I know something about these places having lived in both of them. I’ve long been interested in the history of European colonialism and its outcomes and here was a chance to address the subject as parody. And so much research to do. I love research. I was hooked.