We had a chance to sit down with Edirin Okoloko, former member of The Protectorate under the name of Knockabout. Currently in town on a diplomatic mission for D’habu where he serves as a senior member of the state security force, Ku’whinde, we were delighted to catch up and reminisce about his time in Cobalt City. We caught up with him at the Capital Club and he was gracious to allow us a few minutes of his time.
Q: It seems like it’s been a long time since you’ve been back to Cobalt City? When was your last visit?
E: In an official capacity? It’s been a few years. Unofficially, I still have a few friends from my Protectorate days who live here, and I’ve been known to jet over for a long weekend to visit from time to time.
Q: Next year will be a decade since the Protectorate officially dissolved and you returned to Africa…
E: D’habu. It’s the name of the country, my homeland. When you say Africa, you’re referring to the entire continent which is huge and has countless distinct nations, languages, and cultures.
Q: Sorry. No offence intended. If there was anything you wanted the casual reader to know about D’habu, what would it be?
E: (Chuckles) That we’re not your enemy? I mean, I know things are tense and there’s a certain degree of xenophobia and technological envy, especially after some of the recent events in the area. D’habu has been insular for hundreds of years. It never fell victim to the colonization that has been the legacy of the rest of the continent, and we’re quite aware of the position that puts us in. We’ve done what we can to provide aid to our neighbors as needed–Rwanda to the north, Uganda and Burundi to the west, Tanzania to the south. But for the most part, we’ve isolated ourselves. Now that that policy is changing, it changes the game board for a lot of nations, and people are nervous.
Q: Why now? What’s brought about the change in policy?
E: Because aid from other nations, the World Bank, and multi-national corporations has, historically, come with significant strings. King N’kala and his cabinet have gradually come to realize that the stability that comes from providing aid without conditions outweighs any threat to our own security that isolationism provides. The vast resources of Africa have been plundered by others for centuries. The only thing that’s really changed has been the method. We believe that African resources should remain African, and that upsets the status quo. But in exchange, it’s enabled us to help empower tech regions and economic turnaround in places that desperately need it. It’s helped enrich not just a powerful few, but entire communities. Twenty years ago the idea of the Pan-African Space Program would have been ridiculous.
Q: Now it’s a reality.
E: Not only a reality, but a competitive reality. The first rockets were a huge success, and construction of the orbital platform is on track to begin late next year. It’s entirely within the realm of possibilities that we’ll beat everyone else to a Mars colony.
Q: Is that part of what brings you to Cobalt City on official state business?
E: (chuckles again) It’s related. There are certain overlap with what we’re trying to do with the orbital platform and work that Jaccob Stevens has already done with Starcom Industries, though on a very different scale. We’re trying to broker an agreement that benefits everyone.
Q: Would access to Tascinarium be part of these agreements?
E: It’s no secret that Starcom Industries, along with virtually every other tech company in the world, has been eager to gain access to our national Tascinarium reserves. But it’s not something we consider lightly. D’habu has been the only place in the world where the metal has been discovered. It’s rarity and unique properties have been the subject of much speculation since it was discovered in the eleventh century. But whether you consider it divine providence as we do or blind luck or even extra-dimensional intervention, the fact is that no one else has Tascinarium, and that distinction and our determination to protect it has made D’habu the power that is today.
Q: What is it about Tascinarium that makes it so special? Is it just the rarity?
E: Its weight and flexibility to start with, plus its reactive and conductive properties.
E: It responds to certain wave-forms in a way that no other metals have been known to do. Tascinarium is not entirely of this world. It’s a true Nth-dimensional metal. We’ve had centuries to try and understand it, to experiment with its potential. We’ve seen enough of that potential to know how it can be abused. It’s our responsibility to ensure that doesn’t happen.
Q: On lighter topics, do you have any other plans while you’re back in Cobalt City that you can share?
E: This is very much a work trip, so it remains to be seen. I haven’t had good crab cakes in a while, so fingers crossed I get some soon. And I have a friend whose son wants a Goblin Records t-shirt, so I’ll probably swing by their store in Ruby Tower since it’s right there near Starcom.
Q: One last question?
E: One more.
Q: Is there any chance of the Protectorate getting back together?
E: Considering how things ended almost a decade ago, I doubt the city would want us back together. Anyway, most of us have gone off on our own directions, started very separate lives. We stay in touch. Most of us, at least. But it’s up to the next generation to show us what they can do. It’s one of the things I love most about Cobalt City. There is always another hero waiting in the wings to show you what they can do. I have every confidence that the city is in good hands.