All Na Quest
“I should have brought my iPod with me.” Toes pointing inwards, Hime rocks back on her feet with a hand balanced against her hip. Clad in a crimson full-body metal suit, she lifts her chin high and sighs. She casts her gaze down from the vantage point on top of her humanoid Mecha, Sango. It is a dizzying drop but Hime is immune to vertigo. She waits, counting down to a destiny she has trained a life-span for. Everyone’s hero. Everyone’s idol. Everyone’s sacrifice. It is the onset of battle, so she waits on the enemy, her lithe body swaying as she strains to catch phantom music on the wind.
“Super Metroid tracks would be great right about now–”
“Pass me headset jo!” A hard slap to the back of the head jostled Inuwa forward in his seat and knocked the game gear askew. Inuwa’s vison blackened then adjusted to the dull glare of sunlight. Still disoriented, he looked down to see a sunken chest clad in a grey t-shirt riddled with holes and fraying threads. Twiggy arms – dark skin peppered a pink grotesque with electric burns – removed the virtual reality set from his head. Inuwa swallowed bile and longed for the lithe form of Hime, his game avatar, as he passed the headset to Nura.
“You know say na trade by batter be dis, find me things wey dey work and you fit play.”
Inuwa ignored the reminder and scrambled out of the shed, towards a cresting dune of broken electronics where copper wires, cracked screens and rusted discs waited to sting and maim the unwary who couldn’t afford tetanus shots.
“All na quest sha,” he said and ambled forward.
Ignorance is bliss when your country is one of Africa’s biggest exporters of electronic waste that is mostly non-recyclable. In 2014, I attended the Digital Design weekend at Victoria and Albert Museum in London. I oohed and ahhed appropriately as I wandered the place, receiving pamphlets and leaflets till an installation about electronic waste caught my eye. There were pictures of landfills in Nigeria, something I had never known about despite just arriving from there a few weeks prior.
The idea of reconciling gendered identity and empathy for a self-sacrificing hero in cyber/virtual spaces is staple for gamers. Inuwa goes through lengths – scavenging landfills – to do it. After all, gaming in Nigeria is hardly ever a simple affair because electricity is never stable. It was hard to square the love for my console games, smartphone, and other gadgets with this alarming pile of rubbish. All levels of the industry – from the hoarding consumer to the corporate manufacturers – share the blame for this. My advice to you in the future is to create sustainable technology that creates zero-waste, won’t harm the people or the environment and is marketed or distributed in a practical manner.
Flowers, Alex. The Smartphone I Didn’t Need, Electronic Waste, and Art. Victoria and Albert Museum, 2014. Web. 11 Feb. 2017
Hauwa Aliyu Ahmadu recently graduated from York St John University with an English Literature degree. She was awarded the final project prize for a dissertation focusing on diaspora, genre, and identity in Afrofuturist texts. Her science fiction aspirations are Nalo Hopkinson, Stephen Baxter, Ursula Le Guin, and William Gibson. More than a little manic about anime and games, Hauwa enjoys fandom, writing and photography. She curates an Instagram page and publishes under the name Jidda Ahmadu.
Artwork in featured image by Hauwa Ahmadu