Afrofuturism is on the Radar once again, and this time we explore its relationship to Cyberpunk, a related Science Fiction genre.
Cyberpunk is a…
This is Mane.
Henri Ilunga was a young boy living a small village in the Democratic Republic of the Congo when the Second Congo War started. As roving bands of marauders plundered villages throughout the country, the army scrambled to deal with the crisis and began escorting refugees to camps in neighboring nations. Henri's mother and sister were among the first from their village to make this trip. The men of the village were to follow some days later with the rest of the village's supplies. Time however, was not on their side. Three nights after the women left with the army, a band of teenaged soldiers, led by a young man called King Lion -- a vicious warlord who wore a lion's head to scare his followers and foes, attacked the village. Henri, his family and neighbors all fled before the onslaught but unfortunately many of them were hunted down, butchered or taken captive. Henri's father and brothers attempted to fight and Henri witnessed his father's death. His older brothers were beaten unconscious and taken to be part of King Lion's growing child army. This would be the last time Henri would ever see them. The warlord decided to use young Henri to send a message to the other captives and had his soldiers beat the child mercilessly. The boy's right arm, legs and ribs were shattered in the assault and a grinning King Lion placed his dead totem's head on Henri's and left him for dead in a deep pit.
Two days later, an unconscious Henri was found by the soldiers who'd taken the women to safety. He was taken to a refugee camp in Tanzania and reunited with his remaining family. He was so weak and so badly injured that he might have died had it not been for the arrival of Moses Desalines and members of his aid relief organization. The teen millionaire (who would grow up to be the hero known as Kraken) was touring the region providing food and aid to overburdened camps. Desalines met with Henri and was moved not only by his story, but by his intelligence and determination. Using his vast fortune Desalines was able to bring Henri's family and a number of other refugee children to the U.S. under the sponsorship of the Desalines Children's Emergency Fund. Desalines paid for the best doctors to treat Henri but the nerve damage to his legs was so severe that he would have to wear leg braces for the rest of his life.
Henri began a new life as a student in America and his intelligence shone through. As a young adult Henri excelled in the fields of kinesiology, biotechnology and interfacial engineering (his motivation of course being the injuries he and thousands of other children had suffered due to the conflict in his country). He became one of the world's leading experts on advanced prosthetics and went on to design a fully interactive skin that could move paralyzed limbs by stimulating atrophied muscles and re-routing nerve impulses.
It was at this point that a shadowy government organization saw military applications for Henri's work and he was duped into working for a bio-tech company that was actuality a black-book military research unit. Henri's synthetic skin was being repurposed as a "battle-skin" for soldiers; a battle-skin that could increase the strength and speed of the wearer tenfold; adapt to and integrate genetic material and traits and make the wearer highly resistant to damage. Realizing that he was now helping to create a weapon of war, Henri went to his old friend and mentor Moses Desalines for assistance. Upon further investigation Desalines discovered that some of his own technological advances were also incorporated into the battle-skin's design (specifically his breakthrough with intra-tissue bio-nanotech motors and motor chains). Determined to put an end to the project, they snuck into the facility and destroyed all records of the work that had been done. Then they smuggled Henri out of the country with the only prototype. Henri Ilunga was going "home," back to the refugee camp.