OkadaBooks has been supportive of my writing and it’s both humbling and exciting. They reviewed my flash fiction “Debug” (published by Omenana) for their Literally…What’s Hot? series on Bella Naija. Here’s what Zaynabtyty had to say
This flash fiction about a Robin-hood house-girl who just happens to be a robot is a must read!
Debug is a sci-fi story that immediately establishes its author, Rafeeat Aliyu as eminently knowledgeable in using science fiction (aka sci-fi) to tell African stories.
Robot Mama Anuli has an unusual occupation. She was crafted and programmed to help mothers cope with the birth of their children. She was created by the system to cook centuries-old dishes, to bathe babies, to inoculate toddlers and register children on the CSN (the body in charge of human affairs).
Charged with raising baby Awele, Mama Anuli discovers that the baby was being abused and maltreated by her mother.
Knowing that the system will never punish the mother for its crimes, Anuli kidnaps the child and things go downhill from there.
The world the author Aliyu describes feels so close to where we are right now as a society and it just one small step further down the road we are currently travelling. Governments and big corporations run things with much greater control than they do now and the rich are allowed to do what they want while the poor are punished and isolated.
Debug is a laudable sci-fi afro-futuristic tale, it’s got style, wonderfully written characters and a great plot. Thoughtful flash fiction that is jam-packed with ideas and thoughts on motherhood, science, society and of course mankind itself. Easy reading, rewarding, un-missable fiction.
Aliyu’s writing is consistent and accurate, and I am eager to see more of her work.
A quick look behind the scenes
I believe the idea for “Debug” came about from a conversation with friend and editor Chinelo Onwualu. We were talking about the omu gwo and what it’d look like in a futuristic world. For those not in the know, omu gwo is the Igbo tradition of post-pregnancy care. Natural Nigerian writes that as part of the omu gwo tradition, her mother, ““bathed” me, cooked for me and helped care for my baby so as to give me some time to rest/recover and acclimatize myself to motherhood.”
I imagined a future where robot nannies perform omu gwo rites for wealthy families who no longer have the traditional relations as in the past but still want to maintain the tradition. In “Debug”, the robot nanny Mama Anuli believes the child she is caring for is being abused and pushes back against her wiring (hence, the debug) to save the child’s life.