The Ugly: Modern Day Slavery

Nigeria’s National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons (Naptip) said officials visited Mali this month to follow up “horrendous reports” from victims, aid workers and clergy in Mali.

They said there were hundreds of brothels, each housing up to 200 girls, run by Nigerian “madams” who force them to work against their will and take their earnings.

“We are talking of thousands and thousands of girls,” Simon Egede, Executive Secretary of Naptip, told a news conference in Abuja.

“We are talking of certainly between 20,000 and about 40,000,” he said, but did not give details of how the figure had been reached.

In a statement, Mr Egede said girls were “held in bondage for the purposes of forced sexual exploitation and servitude or slavery-like practices”.

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From Scotland, sans Love: The Toxic Waste Blues

Tens of thousands of tonnes of toxic waste from Scotland are being illegally dumped in Africa and Asia every year with the help of organised criminal gangs, according to an investigation by the Scottish Government’s environmental watchdog.

Mountains of broken televisions, defunct microwaves, worn tyres, contaminated paper and other waste exported from Scottish homes and businesses end up threatening the environment and endangering the health of people in Nigeria, Zanzibar, Ghana, Indonesia, Pakistan, China and elsewhere.

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Meltwater Foundation: Starting Up the Start-ups

“Phase (1) of MEST is a rigorous two-year program where fully sponsored students, known as Entrepreneurs in Training (EITs), receive hands-on education in software development, basic business fundamentals and entrepreneurship” . . .

“In phase (2), the incubator stage, the MEST entrepreneurs get seed funding and incorporate their companies. Their main focus in the incubator is partly to develop a commercially viable go-to-market strategy and partly to further develop their prototype, therefore enabling it for a commercial launch.”

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In South Africa: Gaming, Meet Security

Says Sergey Golovanov, Malware Expert at Kaspersky Lab; “The gaming industry has become extremely lucrative and has evolved into a fully-fledged economy with well developed demand and specific customer requirements, as trading in-game objects is now considered an essential part of any game in itself. It therefore comes as no surprise that fraud and overtly deceiving online gamers has long since become popular among cybercriminals.” . . .

Cyber criminals are engaging with gamers in various ways, either luring or direct intrusion – stealing passwords to gain access to accounts, exploiting game vulnerabilities and making use of malware. One method used by cyber criminals is to enter a game or a forum on a game server and offer a bonus, or help in the game, in exchange for other players’ passwords. The cyber criminal who makes such an offer is not as naive as he may initially seem.

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20 Essential Works of Cyberpunk Literature

A portmanteau of uhhh “cyber” and “punk,” the cyberpunk subgenre of science fiction takes readers to the fringes of mainstream society. In worlds where technologies both benevolent and malevolent reign supreme (not to mention the occasional multinational conglomerate with pervasive political clout and the hottest machinery), writers lovingly dissect a number of different themes that question humanity’s interactions with its inorganic creations. . .

Any readers hoping to gain a thorough understanding of what the subgenre entails should make an effort to understand the beginning, middle and end rather than heading straight for the purely “cyberpunk.”

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The radio show last night was brilliant. I read out my debut short story entitled ‘Virus!’ which is a heavily abridged version of the first chapter in my upcoming cyberpunk novel. The reading was broken up into three parts, but the host did a great job of bridging the parts with very incisive questions that added depth to the story. My fellow guest was an enthusiastic poet named Gabriel Amoh, and I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of his poetry, and even more by his explanations of their meanings. I’ve already received lots of positive feedback to the story here in Ghana, and I can’t wait to upload the podcast for those of you who missed the show, hopefully sometime this week. In the meantime, I have just published the short story on AfroCyberPunk for the first time. Enjoy…

Virus!

The portholes were set to un-shade as the airplane descended into heavy clouds and out of the blinding glare of the West African sun. The small plane trembled through the haze before breaking out to a panoramic view of the sprawling metropolis.

Accra stretched out to bridge the horizons, barely held in check at the southern coastline, where its hyperactive edge threatened to spill over into the Gulf of Guinea. From above, the city seemed without a plan; a vibrant mosaic of infrastructure, haphazardly diced and spliced to make use of every square foot of space. Ramshackle settlements jutted out into the ocean, perched above the water on nests of illegal support structures. Massive holographic logos hovered above the skyline in a brilliant display of optics, familiar corporate logos visible from miles away…

Read ‘Virus!’ on AfroCyberPunk…

I have quite unexpectedly been granted the privilege to appear as a guest on the Writers Project radio show, which airs this Sunday evening on Citi 97.3 FM, Ghana. The Writers Project of Ghana is an organization that promotes writing through workshops, public readings, and their radio show on Citi FM. I didn’t have any completed cyberpunk stories at the time I was contacted, so I have specially adapted the first chapter of my novel into a short story called ‘Virus!’

Those outside Ghana can listen to the show live on the Citi FM website from 8:30 PM to 9:30 PM (GMT), so you can work out when exactly that is in your time zone. For those who are interested but can’t tune in for whatever reason, I intend to upload a podcast of the show sometime next week. While the full novel is still several months away from the bookshelf, this sneak preview should help to take a little edge off the long wait. This Sunday, I hope you all turn on, boot up, and jack in.

It all began in August 2009 with District 9, the acclaimed blockbuster by South African director Neill Blomkamp about an alien refugee camp. This was followed closely by Pumzi, a short film by Kenyan director Wanuri Kahiu about a post-apocalyptic East Africa. Now the largest movie industry in Africa has joined in on the action with the July 2010 release of the sci-fi movie Kajola by Nigerian director Niyi Akinmolayan.

Kajola is the Yoruba word for commonwealth. In the year 2059, Nigeria becomes a totalitarian state. After a second civil war, the rich relocate to the Island areas of Lagos state and turn it into an ultra modern city. The war torn mainland of lagos state is disconnected and abandoned.

A rebel leader, Allen learns of a plot codenamed Kajola to build cities on the mainland and eliminate the remaining survivors. He leads a rebellion against the govt. and must be stopped by Yetunde, the police chief. Though mortal enemies, both discover that everything they thought they knew were nothing but lies. Its a story of love and lust and it heightens the fact that if we don’t deal with the segregation and negligence issues facing the country today, then our future is quite predictable because TOMORROW IS TODAY.

While certainly not a masterpiece in terms of CGI effects, this movie represents one of the few definitive attempts of an African director to break into the science fiction genre. The movie breaks away from traditional Nigerian movie plots, delivering an imaginative vision of a future Nigeria that is as relevant as it is rife with cyberpunk themes. These three movies may well mark the beginning of an exciting new trend in African cinema which only confirms my belief that Africa is cyberpunk.

Watch the Kajola Trailer:

 

Hello readers, I recently had an interesting interview with blogger and social connector Johnny Laird, who asked me questions about my upcoming novel and plans for the future. Here is an excerpt of that interview:

Q: Jonathan, What was it that first inspired you to write, and who are your biggest influences?

A: I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of virtual reality and how media can be used to transport the mind into another world. I began writing because it gave me the ability to create worlds that others could enter as if they had stepped right into my imagination and I showed them around. For that reason, most of my earliest attempts at fiction were interactive hyperlinked stories.

I owe many of my ideas to the ground-breaking work of countless writers and thinkers, so it’s hard to single out a few of them. My greatest single influence must surely be William Gibson, especially if the ripple effects of his work are taken into consideration.

Q: Can you tell us a little about what you are working on at the moment.
A: I’m working on a novel set in Accra, Ghana circa 2060 AD, at a time when clinical neuroscience has reverse-engineered the human brain and uncovered the inner workings of the mind. Two-thirds of the world’s population are implanted with biocores – organic computer interfaces between the brain and cyberspace which link billions of people worldwide to the Internet.

The novel explores the psychological consequences of mind altering technology through the interwoven stories of a data thief, a computer programmer, and a cyber crime investigator who are drawn inextricably into the heart of a dark conspiracy in one turbulent night on the streets of Accra.

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