Biography 06: Children of Mars

Africa is a land full of surprises, and they who travel through her forests and upon the banks of her great rivers, and over her eternal plains must always be prepared to meet surprises. One day I was travelling along the Zambezi river, when I came to a home stead which people in villages that I had passed had told me about. I had been told that in this small village I would find some of the wisest people in the land, people who claim ancestry from creatures who are said to have come from the red star know as Liitolafisi, the red star whose name means the eye of the brown hyena is the star, or rather the planet that white people call Mars. I wanted to meet these wise people, and when I came to the home stead, a collection of grass and wooden huts, protected by a wooden fence, I saw a number of women and children standing inside the fence near the gate. These people were smiling at me and their smiles grew even wider as I drew near the gate, the woman standing nearest to the gate, moved slightly to her left, coming to stand right in the centre of the open gate. My eyes went to her feet, and all courage left me, and like the coward that I often am, I turned around and ran away, followed by loud peals of feminine laughter. I had dropped all my property, my bag and my walking stick upon the dusty path that led to the gate, and there I was running away like a fat ape seeking the safety of the green bush. The women laughed and laughed again, and when I threw a glance over my shoulder, I saw them come out and pick up my property and take it into the village. I had never seen anything like what I saw on that day, the thing that caused me to run away like an idiot fleeing a bush fire. The woman who had stood in the centre of the gate facing me had only two large toes on either of her feet. It was as if I was staring at the feet of not a human being, but of a monstrous bird from the valleys of folklore and legend.Shame faced I walked towards a tree and stood under it trembling with fear and as I stood there a group of men came out of the village and walked laughing and smiling towards me. Nearly all of them had only two toes on each foot. They wore no shoes, and in the African dust their feet really looked frightening. They came around me and surrounded me and said, Do not be afraid of us, we are people just like you. What is it about us that frightens you? Unable to answer, my face hot with shame and embarrassment, I glanced toward their feet and then they roared with laughter. This is how I met a tribe of people know as the Bantwana, which means children. A tribe of people who claim that their remote ancestors were bird like people who came from the stars and who mated with earthly woman and produced these two toed human beings. The Bantwana people welcomed me into their small village and for three months at the feet of two of their elders, I learned about things that left me numb with amazement. The Bantwana are shy people who in ancient times suffered persecution at the hands of people of other tribes, but when they like you and trust you, and feel pity for you, they tell you things that fill you with great amazement. They tell you that there are twenty four inhabited planets within the area of space in …

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