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Not quite in the center of Africa lies a tiny land called Kiwanja whose people have lived in untroubled peace for thousands of years. Though the French and British once colonized this land, it was never considered valuable enough to be brought into the 20th century, and was finally granted its independence... though most of its people were unaware they had ever "belonged" to anyone.
But, times have changed in the outside world: satellites spy on everyone because anything that isn't possessed is a threat to those who don't posses it. Flags are no longer planted on someone's beach to claim new lands for kings and queens, but other methods have been devised to make people slaves and steal their resources.
Thirteen-year-old Dakota is the son of Nathi, a Kiwanjian bush pilot who flys an ancient cargo plane. Dakota is already skilled in take-offs and landings from dirt airstrips in the dead of night, skimming hilltops to avoid radar, and dodging high-tech fighters. Dakota has only known war in his life; war in which children kill other children commanded by adult "generals."
One side wants to rule the land, the other claims to be fighting for freedom, but both bring only terror and death to the innocent people caught in the middle.
Who started this war? Who profits from it? Dakota doesn't know. He packs an AK-47 and, with his father, smuggles weapons by air to the freedom fighters.
Meanwhile, thousands of miles away in Houston, Texas, Nicole Neale, a divorced single-parent with an almost-thirteen-year-old son named Zack, fights a more civilized kind of war to hold her executive job with a small corporation that manufactures many things from kids' action-figures to military uniforms... though much of the work is done by children in dirty, third-world sweatshops.
Except for encounters with road-rage on her daily commute, Nicole's enemies usually aren't violent, but they still lay mines in her road to success.
Will winning her war in corporate boardrooms save her son Zack from what seems like enslavement to video games, junk food, empty material values, the lure of money, and possibly drugs?
Except for two years in Africa as an idealistic teen in the Peace Corps, what can Nicole have in common with a Kiwanjian bush pilot and possible terrorist?
How could her son, chubby, web-surfing Zack, relate to a war-hardened child-soldier like Dakota?
And, why should an American corporation, subsidized by the U.S. Government, have any interest in a tiny African country?
The only thing Nicole knows about Kiwanja is that its people make beautiful boots.
When All Goes Bright
© 2010 Jess Mowry
It could have been called a not-quite land. It was not quite in the center of Africa. It was far enough south so it wasn't steamy, and yet it was not quite a desert. Although it was tiny in terms of a nation, its borders had never been quite defined; its people knew when enough was sufficient, and when more than they needed was really too much.
The not-quite land wasn’t much of a prize when the Europeans came to claim it. It was too far away from a river or coast to be a convenient source of slaves, who inconveniently tended to die if marched for hundreds of miles in chains, and it didn’t have anything valuable such as diamonds, gold, or oil reserves so there was nothing much to steal.
Since the land had nothing of value and its people couldn’t be used, it was merely taken because it was there and anything that wasn’t possessed was a threat to those who didn’t posses it.
Some said the French had first stolen this land, but were never quite sure what to do with it. Then as a sort of colonial joke they had bargained it off to the British for someone else’s former home.
The British loved to colonize -- at least they did at the time -- because even possessing a useless land meant one less threat to their empire.
It was rather like moving into a house with a family who lived in the attic, and of never taking the time or trouble to climb up and make their acquaintance. Whoever they were, they made no demands and never complained if the roof might have leaked. And while it was true that they didn’t pay rent, they never asked for anything, like running water, electric lights, or telephones to call their friends so they weren’t really much of a bother.
One might have imagined a retired British Major reading his paper in robe and slippers and hearing something go bump in the night. He might pause for a moment, puffing his pipe, and wonder about those people up there, but perhaps it was better to just let them be. It was, after all, a tiny place and couldn’t be used for anything.
One day the Major passed away and left the house to his children. He hadn’t done much to keep it up, there were rumors the house was haunted, and repairs would have been expensive... including an exorcism. Besides, there was nothing of value and the neighborhood wasn’t desirable. No one else wanted the house, so it was returned to its free-living tenants.
The not-quite land was forgotten again, and decades passed away in peace while the rest of the world made various wars that came in many sizes. But, far away was a powerful land that still believed in empires and that anything that wasn’t possessed was a threat to those who didn’t possess it. The people who lived in this powerful place had never understood the idea of when enough was sufficient. They were only five percent of the world, yet they gobbled up twenty-five percent of all the world possessed. The purpose of power was power (they said) and the more you possessed the more you should have because that was the natural order of things and the way their children were taught.
The house of Earth could not be enlarged, but its wealthier children demanded more room, or at least more possessions to put in their rooms, because that was the natural order of things and the way they had always been taught.
So, they started to think of remodeling, and so began to measure their house to capitalize on its limited space and demand that everyone pay rent.
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