Thursday, 30 October 2014
Lurking suspiciously near the headwaters of the Timpopo river, Nurkibahoo is a land of dark and fearsome reputation. If the tribes of the Leech Coast dare to mention the word ‘Nurkibahoo’ it is only in terrified whispers accompanied by vigorous, and not always successful, attempts to avoid soiling themselves. Once, so legend has it, Nurkibahoo was an earthly paradise, home to the Great Mountain Gods and an assortment of lesser deities that did their cleaning and looked after the garden. But these gods long ago disappeared and what crept into the void to replace them were, so stories tell, malignant spirits of terrible evil: fell creatures that would make even the Nazgul shift nervously. The archaeological evidence does not fully support this story: ancient inscriptions tell of the presence in early Nurkibahoo of a proto-Egyptian civilisation known as the Clunj. The Clunj seem to have adopted Egyptian tomb building techniques but their civilisation appears to have ended after rampant speculation led to the collapse of the world’s first pyramid selling scheme. Now, Nurkibahoo is the land that the land that time forgot has forgotten. Tales abound of a wilderness filled with strange ruins and impenetrable jungles; of dismal swamps and noisome smells. English explorers reputedly reached a small part of it in 1678 and established a small settlement named New Grimsby. But even if this were true, nothing more since has been heard from them. Either they died of disease, probably through the filthy conditions; or were reduced to cannibalism, probably through boredom.
This mountainous province provides the watery source of the Dongo river. Populated by the surprisingly numerous Wattamassa tribe, Mussihonki is a site of restless, fiery, geological activity much of which seems to take pace in the loincloth of the local potentate Chief Harharbonk, the so-called ‘Lord Goat with a Thousand Young.’ Embarrassed Christian missionaries have sought to curb the Chief’s extravagant, and rather public, humping by introducing him to the usual array of European prophylactics such as jigsaws, sock puppetry, and monogamy. Sadly, however, a fertile combination of long drinking sessions and short attention span have rendered Chief Harharbonk largely immune to these efforts, though he has managed to develop some unexpected uses for the sock.
These lands encompass the heartlands of the Handzande tribes of the southern Leech Coast. The principal settlement of the Chiefdom of Handzande is known as Umflopi, and comprises an extensive settlement of Handzande huts, paddocks, and storerooms surrounded by a stockade. Rather like the Handzande Chief, M’Wahaha, Umflopi varies in size depending upon the season. In summer, in particular, Handzande tribesmen flock to Umflopi in preparation for annual expeditions against their neighbours. At this time, important tribal celebrations take place. First to occur is the ‘Roger the Small Boy’ festival: named after an incident in which one of Handzande tribes rescued a small European boy, named Roger, whose explorer parents had been eaten by hippos, this is a charming cornucopia of dance and frolicsome behaviour. It is followed soon after by the ‘Roger the Cow’ festival in which Handzande warriors get it on with their livestock.