Friday, 22 August 2014


     The remains of a grand indigenous Muslim Empire that once stretched to the Niger Delta, the Loofah Caliphate is now a modest African princedom that clings precariously to the shores of Lake Chav. Standing at the crossroads of ancient caravan routes, the Caliphate’s principal settlement, the town of Rubadub, is a key hub of commerce for the Leech Coast. Mentioned in ancient Egyptian scrolls of the Middle Kingdom, the place was known in the age of the Pharoahs as Merenptah, a name comprising the Egyptian hieroglyphs for a fly, a chamberpot, the rear end of a goat, and something that is a long way away. These days, Rubadub is the meeting point for caravans that have travelled from the mysterious interior of Africa. The Loofah Caliphate reached the apogee of its power in the 17th Century under Sultan Pongo XII, who defeated the armies of Sokoto and Bornu. However, a series of terrible civil wars led the Caliphate to fragment.

     The rump of the Caliphate has been ruled for the past 20 years by Sultan Benj-i Bair III. Described according to his formal titles as ‘Sultan, Caliph, Overlord, and Master of All That He Can See’, the Sultan is so gargantuan of girth that the last of his titles necessarily limits his sovereignty over those portions of the caliphate that are below his belly button. For this reason the space around the Sultan's feet is regarded as place of traditional, if rather sweaty sanctuary for fleeing criminals. Indeed, having seen little of his nether regions for a decade or so, the Sultan reputedly commanded his master architects to create a replica of his posterior so that he could watch people kissing it. Putting the mental back into the word 'monumental', the Sultan spent 5 years and used 10,000 slaves constructing from mud bricks a passable facsimile of his own Royal fundament, an edifice that was 200 feet high and complete in every detail, down even to some of the stray criminals that tended to get sat on accidentally at public ceremonies.


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