Like most writers I usually develop a detailed background about my characters before I embark on writing my novels. I’m not an outline type of person, so I usually put such information in vignettes and short passages that I scribble in my journal or carry around in my head. Although the character development of my main character or characters are pretty detailed, those of my secondary or supporting characters are usually sparse. I tend to fill in the details as the story progresses.
That being said, I initially had no intentions of writing a Changa’s Safari prequel. However, as more and more people read and enjoyed the stories I received many questions about the lives of Panya, The Tuareg, Amir Zakee and Mikaili before they became members of Changa’s crew. That’s when the stories began. Firs there was Oya’s Daughter, then El Sirocco. The Shange stories, Mwanamke Tembo and Walaji Damu, were inspired by artwork by Kristopher Mosby, which have also resulted in a graphic novel based on Walaji Damu entitled The Blood Seekers
It was then that I began considering the anthology. I had two Changa stories I’d written for anthologies that never materialized, good stories that were gathering dust. These were stories of adventures that had taken place between Changa fleeing his homeland and arriving in Mombasa. And what about that fateful moment Changa was forced to leave his home, those moments that began his journey? That was surely a story that needed to be told.
So here we are. Before the Safari is collection of previously published and new stories that fill in the gaps of Changa’s life and those of his crews. It’s not a comprehensive anthology; there are many more stories that could be told and probably many more that should be told, but a brother has other things to do. Here’s a brief rundown:
The Promise: Changa witnesses the death of his father Mfumu and is taken away to be trained by his uncle to one day regain the Stool.
Oya’s Daughter – Panya discovers she has been pledged to a rival oba in a marriage alliance. However Panya and Oya have other plans.
Hekalu ya Mwangaza (The Temple of Light) – Changa volunteers to go on a quest with a mysterious wizard and his warrior to clear Belay’s debt.
El Sirocco – El Sirocco, the Desert Wind, rules his land with cruelty and ruthlessness. A moment of weakness forces him to seek a new witch to insure his strength.
Mrembo Aliyenaswa (Captured Beauty) – Changa and Belay sail to Zanzibar to find a woman whose life in put in danger by Belay’s son Naragisi.
The Sea Priest – A young Mikaili sets out on an adventure on the sea. What he discovers changes his life forever.
Mwanamke Tembo (The Elephant Woman) – Belay sends Changa to discover why the ivory supply from the interior has ceased. Changa finds himself in the middle of a battle between powerful spirits.
Mbogo Returns – Belay has died and given his business to Changa. Changa is forced to go to Mogadishu and finds himself fighting in the pits again, but this time to save the life of a man known as ‘The Tuareg.’
Walaji Damu (The Blood Eaters) – Shange and Mijogo are sent to a village to save its people from mysterious creatures that are taking villagers and feasting on their blood.
The Gate – Down on his luck and about to lose Belay’s business, Changa sails to Kilwa Milikya in hopes to find wealth. What he finds is beyond his imagining.
The Devil’s Lair – Amir Zakee, his father and his brothers lead warriors to support his grandfather in a battle against a heretic priest and his worshipers.
I hope you take the time to check out this anthology. It’s a good introduction for those who have yet to take part in the Safari and a good background for those who have. I’m thinking about a second anthology that would include stories about characters less prominent but just as intriguing, such as Tula the serpent woman and Kintu the demi-god. I hope you enjoy the read!
You can find Before the Safari and my other books here: MVmedia