Tony Mochama stretches our imagination with his latest novel, 2063 – Last Mile Bet, which came out at a pre-launch launch a few weeks back at the IMAX theatre.
Still to be finally edited by Nsemia Inc. Publishers, the book will officially be released later this year. In the meantime, one has to marvel at Mochama’s wild imagination, leave alone his method of speculation about what the future will bring to Kenya between now and 2063.
His story is set in a time when Kenya’s in its centennial year. His protagonist is 88 years old, presumably the age Mochoma will be when he reaches that autumn’esque stage of his life career.
His protagonist, Morgan Chamaroche, is a crusty old gambler who, in the course of exactly 24 hours, reflects on his past in a series of flashbacks as well as on his present, which is quite precarious.
For it would seem old Chamaroche has dug himself into a huge bottomless pit of debt. He’s been afflicted with a gambling addiction for many years. What’s worse is that he’s been mindlessly borrowing from the Mafia all that time. So it’s understandable when the Italian mafia man gives him so many hours before reaching a June 2, 2063 deadline, to come up with the cash: It’s a cool Sh80 million that Chamaroche owes. And if he doesn’t pay up on time, it’s curtains for him.
So while his whole life flashes before him in the course of that one 24 hour day, (between 10am, June 1, 2063 and 9:59am the following day), Chamaroche takes a lot of time to reflect on the issues of death and immortality.
Clearly, he’s a man who’d like to live forever. He’s even taken sundry drugs to deflect any signs of dementia.
He’s also served as a sort of scientific guinea pig, allowing a Swiss doctor to insert ‘nanobots’ (or “the micro-metals of immortality”) into the inner recesses of his “molecular bonds.” These were meant to strengthen his valves and arteries, which apparently they have.
However, with this experiment as in so many other spheres of Morgan’s life, he takes a big risk that can have dire consequences. For instance, the nanobots can become “suicide bombers of the heart, a Trojan horse in his brain” if provoked by stress or over-excitement.
So Chamoroche hobbles around a rather dystopic Kenya, like a kind of ticking time-bomb. If the Mafia doesn’t get him, the drugs or the nanobots might. But until one of them does, Morgan has a good thing going, apart from his addiction.
It’s that addiction that compels him to calculate that one last multimillion shilling bet. Either way, Mochama and Morgan are prepared for whatever, come what may.