New Greater South Africa / Negsoa (Mu Arae III)


The instinct to command others, in its primitive essence, is a carnivorous, altogether bestial and savage instinct.
- Mikhail Bakunin, Protestation of the Alliance

From the river, Aldennia looks like a strange cloud that has landed on a hill in the middle of the plains. Greyish smoke hangs around the dark buildings, the crumbling city walls send out bastions and pseudopodia of stone towards outlying fortresses. Several towers overlook the dark city, giving it a medieval feel. In the middle, looking almost like a fantasy palace, a single ancient shuttle stands stained with moss. In the fields outside I saw peasants toil with the rice, guarded by soldiers dressed in a variety of uniforms. They were warily watching not just the mountains, but also across the fields towards the regions ruled by other nobles. They practically ignored the river, not realising that the greatest threat to their masters were the peaceful, singing seapeople on the barge with me.
- Jonathan Ellis-Khayama, Interstellar Diary


The Greater South Africa Republic was formed from the chaotic remains of the south african states in the aftermath of the Swaziland Crisis in the 2020's. The unification was more of a military/police takeover organised by general (later president) Desmond Aldenn, a South African administrator. His rule has been called the last classical dictatorship on Earth; while more of a wasteful oppressor than actual tyrant he was an uniquely unsavory character in the politics of the 2030's. During his reign president Aldenn funded the colonisation program as a grand gesture, heedless of the expense and growing discontent in his country. As the tide turned against him Aldenn began to secretly send his people to the colonisation program, and as his capital fell in 2040 he and his most loyal men left in one of the greatest airlifts of all time. Without hesitation Aldenn launched his single colony ship towards Mu Arae III, leaving the Earth behind. In 2156 the colony ship arrived to the Mu Arae system and triumphantly announced to mankind that the NGSAR, New Greater South Africa Republic, was founded. The name was later distorted into Negsoa.

The colony was badly equipped, undermanned and lacked vital competence in many areas. The equipment failed, the core colony Aldennia could not develop according to plan and efficiency was low. An attempt to bring down the colony ship to act as ready-made fortress failed and resulted in a serious wreck; fortunately most useful equipment had already been brought down with shuttle (the crater is today called Ichibi Elilukhuni, "the stupid lake"). To make matters worse Aldenn continued to develop his paranoia, several times executing officers or experts for disagreeing with him. Within three months of planetfall he was murdered together with his feared cadre of bodyguards through a bombing. His lieutenants scrambled for power, but the two main strong men managed to keep the situation under control. They realised the need to ensure survival, and made a deal dividing the colony between them. Over the next years development went slowly. The camps were often against each other or working inefficiently, but a rudimentary agrarian society was set up.

The capital became a stronghold for the ruling families, ruthlessly controlling the farmers and plotting against each other. While they call themselves nobles, the system is also a tribal system where family ties extend even into the farming community. The farmers are little more than serfs; they are in turn handled by overseers who in turn answer to the nobles and their soldiers. The higher ranks have final say in who marries whom, and often trade serfs with each other. Craftsmen and servants live with the nobles in the city, kept under strict guard by the soldiers.

In secret some people fled into the mountains, building secret villages free from the city people. To supplement their farming they took to stealing or plundering from the lowlands. Over time a fragile balance developed with a feudal/tribal system of warlord families ruling their piece of the countryside from their strongholds in Aldennia or from the mountains. The mountain villages united into a loose alliance against the aldennians but spent most of the time in internal quarrels.

Around 70 years after landfall Negsoa was a thoroughly "medieval" society, with some remaining advanced technology in Aldennia, often family heirlooms with little practical use. Earth became a mythical place; according to the common people a wonderful world they had been expelled from by the evil Aldenn, according to the nobility a decadent cesspool most likely destroyed in some war. Several uprisings had semi-religious overtones, seeking to overthrow the Aldennians and return the golden age of Earth.

Over time the mountain lords grew in power, especially after they began to mine and sell metal. Metal objects had gained in popularity, not just due to usability but also as a symbol of status, power and magical charm. The Aldennians managed to keep the balance of power, but in the struggles more people managed to escape from their control along the shores of the East Sea. They began to live on floating rafts or boats to escape attackers more easily, The sea people developed into a major power in the 2200s due to their skills at seafaring, fishing and navigation. It was they who discovered the methane geysers of Hoto; selling bottled gas to the mountain lords or Aldennians they became wealthy and powerful, possibly the only comparatively peaceful society on the planet. Attempts by the other powers to get access to the sea were easily defeated, and the secrets of navigation were held strictly secret.

The arrival of uitlanders in 2343 sent shock, fear and hope throughout Negsoa. The nobles quickly realised that the uitlanders outgunned them totally, and grudgingly settled for cautious diplomacy while trying to figure out how to use them and retain their own power. The pheasants were fearful of the god-men from the stars, but secretly nurture hope that the Homecoming is at hand.


Overall, Negsoa is primitive but politically quite dynamic. Over time it is likely that it will change tremendously as trade and industry pick up again; the knowledge of the earthlings may have been partially lost or incomprehensible, but the realisation that it is there and can be rediscovered helps development. The main problem is that so much energy is spent in internal struggles that little remains for development.

As the colony effort disintegrated and the technology began to fail, most of the families did what they could to keep the old knowledge alive. Especially important was the printing of the large library of "How to"-manuals in the computers, manuals and documentation describing how to construct various machines, basic textbooks and other useful stuff. Even if the situation didn't allow the use of the information at that point, they realised that in time it would prove invaluable. Since then the families have kept libraries of howtos, well guarded and tended by trusted members (there have been many thefts or sabotage attempts - by depriving a family of howtos, it not only loses important information but the loss of treasure also hurts its status) . Most of the information is useless, but occasionally a gem can be found giving the family an edge. The howto libraries are kept by family howtokeepers, acting as librarians and advisors.

The Colony Council is a yearly meeting of the leaders of the families of Aldennia; the name is taken from the original colony leadership, but in practice it is a huge family festival when the different families mingle, compete, plot and generally interact with each other. This is the time when marriages are announced, alliances made or broken. The Mountain Lords have sent representatives to the Council for the last decades, and after the arrival of the uitlanders the representatives have even been allowed into the Council House to participate in the main debate.


All clothing is based on simple natural fibres such as wool or the bast of the brace tree, and colouring is expensive. Most people wear a kind of grey burnoose, while the nobles sport more complex clothing, richly painted and often with leather or metal armour.


Abantu bolwandle

"People of the sea" in Xhosa, common name for the seapeople among the farmers.

Bhabha ikhaya!

Fly home! Expletive suggesting that somebody should try to fly back to Earth. "Goduka!", go home, is sometimes used to suggest that somebody return to the domain of their own family.

Big Papa

Title used for the leader of a family.


Family; one of the extended clans ruling Negsoa.


Term used for Earth, usually with religious overtones when used by the farmers. The Hometurning movement claims that by overthrowing Aldennia they can return to Earth in the colony shuttles.


Highlander, someone of the mountain people.


The old "How to" guides printed shortly after the colony was founded. Today rare, carefully guarded texts owned by the Aldennian families.


A librarian/advisor studying the howtos. Generally the technological experts of Aldennia.

Intaba Iyafeza

"Mountain master", formal title for the mountain lords.


Derogatory word used by the seapeople for the other inhabitants.


Afrikaans for "kitten"; term used for many of the local predators due to their small size and often pretty appearance.

Nomwa shadow

When the light of Nomwa casts shadows; traditionally an unlucky time, and it is commonly believed that stepping on somebody's Nomwa shadow will cause him bad luck or illness. Usually averted by carrying around lights or biolumniscent plants in the evening.


Derogatory name for the sea people.


Outsider, somebody not from Negsoa.




Population: 3,093,296. Aldennia valley: 1,855,977 Mountains: 989,855 Sea people: 247,463. Life expectancy at 1 years: 54.6 Earth-years (infant mortality 21%).


Barter or silver.


The day is approximately 26 hours long; since timekeeping isn’t very important that is close enough for practical use. The years are counted by the seasons; one year is 401 days long.


None, but each family has its own coat of arms.


Negsoa orbits 0.73 AU from Mu Arae, with a year of 0.73 Earth years (or 245 days long).

The rest of the system is little explored. Inside Negsoa lies Nomwa, a hot super-terran world that shines brightly in the sky even in the daytime. Outside Negsoa lies Didi, an apparently terrestrial (if chilly) world that might even harbour life. Outside an extensive asteroid belt lies a frozen desert world named Thoko.

The diameter of Negsoa is 13,102 kilometres, the density 0.943 of Earth. Gravity 0.972 g. The day is 25 hours and 52 minutes long. The axial tilt is 17 degrees and 90% of the surface is covered with water.

There are two major continents, and a broad arctic archipelago. The colony is located on the southern part of the largest continent, Tasha, which is roughly the size of Africa. The East Sea is a shallow sea with extensive petrochemical resources east of Tasha. Near the island chain Hoto natural geysers of methane erupt at regular intervals. The other continent, Joke, lies on the other side of the planet and is roughly the size of northern America.

The climate is fairly hot and humid compared to Earth (especially on southern Tasha), but with practically no seasonal variation due to the minor axial tilt (just two degrees). Hurricanes are fairly common. Joke is more temperate than Tasha.


Life on Negsoa has developed in very different directions on the two major continents. Tasha has a fairly terrestrial ecosystem, dominated by a mixture of forests of fern-like plants and swampy plains dominated by moss-like plants (with significant differences in different climate regions, of course). Animals are often birdlike jumping or flying creatures, while the plants often exhibit bioluminiscence – flowers and pollinating animals are night-active instead of day active. A night-time walk through a Negsoan landscape is a surreal experience. In the mountains wines climb the rock, creating a dense and impassable cover. Burner trees exploit forest fires to make room for themselves. They accumulate a highly inflammable tar-like sap, and when a fire begins the trees exude it, covering anything beneath. The result is that the local area becomes an inferno, and any competing trees die. Quite naturally, the sap is used for lamps and fuel despite its stench.

Of especial use is the Paulyntje-kittekop, a small chameleonic predator that stalks its prey. It can be trained and used as a guard animal; many Negsoan homes have a number of kittens guarding them – any unwelcome visitors will be attacked by the kittens, whose saliva is fairly poisonous.

Joke is dominated by a symbiotic ecosystem (that is bound to interest Arcadians). Incursions from Tasha apparently fail and Joke species cannot spread without each other. A wide variety of termite-like animals build extensive hives, essentially remodelling the entire landscape, hiding water and nutrients in their hives and determining which kind of plants can live where. Almost the whole continent is a rolling landscape of sparse trees, hillocks and towers of spongy material. Other species have adapted, exploiting the hivers in all sorts of ways. Many creatures live in the hives, acting as symbionts, parasites or comensals. Plants grow with roots in the hives, exchanging nutrients for protection and water, or try to cheat the hivers. Various predators live of the hivers, and are in turn stalked by hiver-protectors, animals that kill the predators and get nutrients directly from the hivers.