World Building Document
Myths and Legends
In the beginning there was the Great Spirit Dzivaguru, who created the Dreaming. The Dreaming is the time out of time, the everywhen and the infinite all. The past is Dreaming, the future is Dreaming, and the present is Dreaming. The Dreaming is all of creation, undifferentiated, infinite and absolute with no boundaries. The Dreaming is the fountain of all learned knowledge; ancestry and descendancy exist as one. At the centre of the dreaming, the great tree, Mujitan, connected the sky with its branches, the land with its trunk, and the depths of the world with its roots.
From the Dreaming Dzivaguru drew time and place to anchor its creation, humans. Everything we perceive, time and space, is a single dimension of a much vaster Dreaming. Time and place solidified, creating the world as it exists, or is perceived by people, today. With time and place, humans set about travelling across the land creating the world that came to be known as Xenshana. With this solidification, definition between what is and what is not came duality, a deepening of the gift from Dzivaguru. With duality came hot and cold, light and darkness, life and death. Life is connected to the Dreaming, it flows from the Dreaming at birth and returns to the Dreaming on death. With the combination of time, and the many aspects of duality, the gift deepened further with the seasons and the natural cycles of nature.
Dzivaguru is represented as an infinite serpent with iridescent rainbow feathers, each patterned with the history of every living creature. Rain and rainbows are connected with Dzivaguru, as the presence of a rainbow is said to represent Dzivaguru moving across the land to tend to creation, often moving on after bringing life giving rain. In its aspect of the rain, Dzivaguru is the creator of all life, and is the creator and transgressor of boundaries, creating the infinite, boundless Dreaming, then time and place, slithering across the land to create rivers, flying through the sky and burrowing underground. In connecting these different realms great tree Mujitan is said to be like Dzivaguru, or some claim that Mujitan is just one aspect of Dzivaguru itself.
There are hundreds of thousands of creation stories across Xenshana. Perhaps due to the influence the Rozvi and then the Unhu Collective enjoyed and the success they’d had exporting their culture across the planet, or perhaps due to something deeper, many creation stories across Xenshana include similar elements to the story of Dzivaguru.
Xenshana is a parallel universe to Earth. Created in more or less the same circumstances, the different eras of Xenshana and Earth run parallel to each other. The continents both took the same shapes and humanity flourished on both planes. Civilisation started to build in the same places and mostly go by the same names. Then, something curious happened.
On Earth, the first Punic War between Rome and Carthage ended in a Roman victory. But on Xenshana, it ended in a stalemate. With this small divergence in history the fate of the two realms became radically divergent. On Xenshana, Rome failed to raise enough money from its citizenry to create the naval fleet it needed to cut off Carthaginian reinforcements to Sicily. The conflict between Rome and Carthage was unsettled, and much like on Earth the second Punic War broke out. However, the histories of the two realms continued to diverge. On Xenshana the second Punic War ended in a Carthaginian victory when Scipio Africanus was defeated by Hannibal at Zama. With the Roman forces broken Hannibal was able to march on Rome and capture the city, brining Rome under Carthaginian control. The centre of power in the world became North Africa, not Italy as it was on Earth. The Holy Roman Empire never went on to establish settlements across Europe. The British Isles were never Roman colonies on Xenshana, and Europe never became colonial powers.
On Xenshana, the centre of power shifted to Southern Africa as trade enriched the Rozvi Empire, largely untouched by the Mfecane from 1814 to 1840 that engulfed the Southern Africa of Earth. The various southern African tribes of Xenshana were never driven north by colonial settlement.
In a reversal of Earth’s history, African nations, which were more developed than their European counterparts, took white slaves and colonised large sections of Europe, Asia and the Americas. As wealth and political power settled in the Rozvi Empire, their militarism fell away as the affluent class spread the ideology of Ubuntuism. The Rozvi Empire transitioned to an experimental form of governance called the Unhu Collective and started to reach out to all the nations of the world, popularising Ubuntuism. Slavery was outlawed and all former colonies of the Rozvi Empire were given self-rule. Ubuntuism became known by many different terms across the world but the fundamental principals were adopted in many different corners of the globe, becoming the dominant school of thought on Xenshana. The centre of world power now rests between the continents of Africa and Asia, being seen as the old and the new world, respectively.
Africa has strong trade relations with most of the world as due to its colonial history, which turned into cultural connections. Similar political structures to the Unhu Collective began to be established in the colonies as they transitioned to self-governance. The African Concurrence, the body that represents all African nations had a single world war with the Zhong Guo Dynasty, the dominant power in Asian that either co-opted other Asian countries of allowed them to freely associate with the Dynasty as allies for mutual self-defence. The conflict was known as the High War, taking place between 1921 and 1926. War on a large scale has not been seen since on Xenshana.
The formalised ideology and economic system that grew from the Bantu philosophical concept of Hunhu or Ubuntu is called Ubuntuism. The basic premise of the ideology is that an individual exist in the context of others, or it can be stated as I am because we are. From this premise of humanity existing in the context of others, of the group serving as something greater than the whole, springs many ideas on how the group should be treated, supported, and how the group best works. Ubuntuism draws on strands of socialist, communist, syndicalism and anarchist thought, and is a critique of capitalism.
For as long as people moved away from purely hunter gatherer lifestyles and needed to trade, there have been notions of ownership and value. Money in some form quickly arrived on the heels of ownership as a way to easily account for and transport value. Ownership is a notion that is detrimental to the group, as it means that some will have and some will not. With money comes economic exploitation of individuals or groups of individuals, by others. The main social activity becomes amass as much money as possible. This is also detrimental to the group, as it places the employer above the employee; the group is no longer cohesive. The fact that one person denies another the basics of food and shelter and demands something from them breeds resentment, further ruining group cohesion. As a way of meeting the needs of the people, the newly formed Unhu Collective created industry groups called syndicates that would run themselves by consensus. The groups would set out their organisational structure however they chose as long as everyone was a part of the process, and certain inalienable rights were not be transgressed. A form of universal basic income was instituted so that the people of the Unhu Collective could still buy and trade with other nations.
It quickly became apparent that there were some jobs that very few people wanted to do, since there was no economic incentive to do them. The Collective introduced a system to replace the government itself. An overarching union was created that coordinated among the syndicates and was able to draw on people to perform unpopular jobs as and when required, but these jobs are spread among the population and only last for a short period of time. Most didn’t mind being a janitor for one day every few months in return for a system that allowed true self determination and gave everyone a voice. This union, unlike the self-organised syndicates, would be composed of people who put themselves forward and who could only serve for a set period of time. One by one, as laws were no longer needed they were repealed by the diminishing government. Syndicates enforced their own rules through social mechanisms that people are free to opt out of and leave if they so choose. Should someone commit a crime against one of the basic tenants of Ubuntuism, like murder, a theft of someone’s humanity and a direct blow to the group, the person was exiled and cut off from the group, rather than imprisoned.
As Ubuntuism become embedded across many nations, the advances that were gained through cooperation rather than competition became apparent. By completely opening up scientific research, technological breakthroughs began to be made faster. Soon many countries were turning the tide on environmental degradation, growing enough food to feed their people and providing enough clean water. Coupled with automation, post scarcity became a reality across some parts of Xenshana.
This economic system supported the ideals of equality and group solidarity. As Ubuntuism flourished the Unhu Collective began to evangelise the idea internationally, through economic treaties, film, literature, poetry, and their scientific and technological breakthroughs. Most of Xenshana today practice Ubuntuism to some extent.
Major Locations and organisations
Below is a translation of major locations and organisations and organisations from Xenshana to Earth analogues
- Unhu Collective - the new name of the Rozvi Empire, including areas of Zimbabwe, South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Mozambique, Namibia, Botswana and Zambia.
- Zhong Guo Dynasty - China, Korea, and Mongolia, with the remaining nations of Asia either as allies of vassal states
- The Arab Caliphates - The collective name for the nations that occupy the Middle East
- Numic-Siouan Nations - The collective name for the nations that occupy the United States and Canada
- The Triple Alliance - Central America
- Inca Dominion - Part of South America
- Tupi-Guaraní Federation - Part of South America
- Europa - The collective name for the nations that occupy Europe
- The Island Nations of Hawaiki - The collective name for the nations that occupy the Pacific
The African Concurrance - The African Union
Ubuntuism collects bits and pieces from different cultures as it has spread to form a pan national culture that people can choose to identify with if they so desire.
The practice of totems started as part of Bantu culture and carried through to the modern day. As Ubuntuism flourished and borders began to break down with the slow dissolution of formalised government totems spread abroad. Nowadays, many people have totems, which are an animal or potentially a body part like the heart or brain that is associated with the family. Totems are passed from parents to children and are used as a tool to trace genealogy back to ancestors. People are said to take on aspects of the totem they inherit.
Rite of Passage
In countries that practice Ubuntuism to some degree, it is often that children are not considered adults until they go through a rite of passage called Kutema Li. After the person has served one year in a self-organised syndicate, as recognised by others of the syndicate, the person then will undertake a ceremony in the traditional clothes of their culture and give praise to their ancestors. Depending on the person’s ancestry the contents of Kutema Li can differ. But once Kutema Li has been passed, the person is considered an adult.
In a society which fundamentally believes humanity exists in the context of the group, reputation is important. For some, it completely replaces currency. Using technology that is worn as jewellery, fashion, or unobtrusively under their clothing, deeds are recorded through images, sounds, spoken word and text entries. These deeds are entered into one or many of the distributed ledgers that Xenshanans use to record their reputation. Others can come to consensus about these deeds to lend them levels of authenticity, and people can choose what elements of this reputation are public and what is shared with whom. Deeds that negatively impact others are also captured and vetted through consensus. A person can choose to not display certain parts of their reputation to hide particular deeds, but there is also word of mouth. People can choose to add other things like their totem and ancestry, allowing reputation to become complete representation of self. Reputation is often holographically projected or viewed online, as a complex and rich tapestry outlining the deeds of the person, combining static artwork, video, music and sound. To join a syndicate, people often just submit their reputation for inspection. Legend has it that this artistic representation of a person’s history is captured in the feathers of Dzivaguru, giving the great serpent it’s rainbow coloured feathers.
There are many languages spoken on Xenshana, the trade language being Rozvi (note: a mixture of Shona, Ndebele, Xhosa and Zulu). The second most common language is Guānhuà (Mandarin) spoken by the Zhong Guo Dynasty and many other Asian countries. Technology is important to the Unhu Collective, and the Rozvi language has been turned into a computer programming language. You can program by talking in Rozvi and following some basic sentence structure to define things like function calls.
The traditional greeting of the Unhu Collective, which has been taken up across Xenshana, is to cup ones hands and clap. It demonstrates gratitude for the other person and gives thanks to them.
In keeping with the notion of Ubuntuism and group ownership, Xenshanans favour decentralised technology, eschewing centralised control or too much control and influence being wielded by one or a small number of parties. Often, particular platforms and networks will be maintained by a syndicate. Another highly valued feature is control of personal data in all forms, how the data is generated, where it is stored, who has access to the data along with knowing and giving permission for what the data is used for. These two properties are the social norm for what Xenshanans expect from their technology, if they aren’t present Xenshanans often won’t adopt it in vast numbers. Owing to the cooperative nature of Xenshana, rather than the competitive nature of Earth, Xenshana has a generally higher level of technology. Almost all technology is open source, allowing for permissionless innovation. Technology is often woven into wearables, feeding into the reputation ledgers and allowing people to holographically project the artwork that is their reputation for others. The internet itself in many areas is truly decentralised with local communities controlling and local syndicates maintaining physical infrastructure and internet service providers. Global social media platforms are decentralised with servers and instances looked after by interested groups. Technological marvels that seem impossible to the average citizen of Earth are commonplace on Xenshana, like multinational syndicates supporting human space exploration and the Dream.
Data holds a special significance for Xenshanans. Not only can data tell you about a person currently, it can tell you about their past, right through to their ancestry in the case of DNA, and it can be used to make future predictions. In this day, data is viewed as a resource with similar properties to the Dreaming itself. A number of syndicates had a grand vision for a world where past and present could come together to define the future, and they set about building a planet wide array of quantum computer networks known as memory vaults. Collectively, this decentralised network of memory vaults is called the Dream. Separate from the internet, but connected to it, the Dream stores all data collected about a person. Reputation is backed up to the Dream. All the wearables that Xenshanans use, all that information is stored in the Dream. Medical vitals and even brainwaves are stored in the Dream. This vast collection of data on people, creating copies of people with real history and experiences, sophisticated enough to generate conscious thought, creates beings called Dreamers. Dreamers are separate from people, but they are accorded the same rights as people.
A year after someone passes away, people practice a ceremony called Kurova Guva, which was intended to recall the spirit of a person from the afterlife to aid the family. This practice still continues in large parts of Africa and abroad, but a new ceremony called Kusvikirwa, based on Kurova Guva, started to be practiced. Dreamers could be brought from the Dream. Some exist solely in electronic networks; others holographically project an avatar as a physical presentation in the world, or inhabit 3D printed bodies. Depending on the technological augmentations an individual chooses to get, they can even share their body with a Dreamer, to become a host to multiple personalities or mixing their individuality with that of the Dreamer to become a new person. A Dreamer can be composed of the data from a single person, or can be a composite of the data from many people. Indeed, people often have their data shared by multiple Dreamers. Dreamers can participate in syndicates as a normal person, or, possessing their own agency, they can chase their own desires. Dreamers can gather their own reputation and become entirely new identities if they like. As Dreamers can be made up of the experiences of an entire family, or an entire generation people, the advice of Dreamers is often sought after and highly regarded. Dreamers are also considered sacred by some cultures as through a combination of genetic data and shared experience Dreamers represent a tangible connection to someone’s ancestry and, as an extension of humanity, help guide humanity to a bright future.
Buildings and city layout
Architecture is well regarded on Xenshana; importance is placed in it as an art form for cultural expression as well as having tangible benefits for society by designing spaces that are conducive for group use. As Ubuntuism has risen in popularity across Xenshana, the style of building many family dwellings have circular houses that sit around a tree, representing Mujitan the great tree, or Dzivaguru itself. Most towns are small communities are grouped around or are close to syndicates that provide vital resources like food and water distribution. Even the architecture of most cities is still based around a central tree or small forest, sometimes some on each floor. The city centre usually contains many syndicate buildings with syndicates that need more space for their work clustering around the periphery of the city outskirts.
As reputation slowly became worth more than money and many nations move towards post scarcity through a mixture of scientific breakthroughs and robotic automation, currency has started to fall away in many countries. The number of banks across Xenshana is dwindling; most outlets that still use and accept currency have switched over to distributed ledger systems for digital currency. Reputation in many places actually considered a digital currency in and of itself, rather than trading money for goods and services as surety the individual has contributed some form of work to society, people can often simply show their reputation to evidence the same thing.
Most Xenshanans participate in delivering education at some point in their lives. Be it through self-organised groups that look after and teach young children, to syndicates that educate children across any number of fields, it as seen as the community duty to give back something to the younger generations. After working for a number of years for a syndicate, many people will take time out to pass on what they have learned. Dreamers are also an invaluable resource, teaching children about the past and looking to where humanity is going, together. This style of education runs right through to university, with some still being structured, but in many places across Xenshana they are syndicates that integrate directly with primary and secondary education, ramping children up to conduct their own research if they so wish. Education is seen as an inalienable right and while people stand willing to give back and teach it is not something that can or should be held back in return for payment.
Started by an open hardware syndicate tinkering with a number of former weapon patents after the High War, vehicles were designed that could land on most any relatively flat surface that could fly at great speeds. The vehicles were called kuàisùs or kus for short, and the syndicate merged with another that specialised in building and maintaining memory vaults. With a quantum computing network, the new syndicate could automate the kus, creating a flying car network. As the designs for everything were open, other groups picked up the ku design until now, almost anyone anywhere in the world can signal a ku and be on the other side of the world, in the space of a few hours, for free.
Ubuntuism's stance on weapons is that you cannot build things with weaponry; the group doesn’t become stronger through weaponry. After the High War between the African Concurrence and Zhong Guo Dynasty, an embargo on weapons research was put into effect globally. Known as the 1952 Embargo on Research into Technology of a Destructive Nature, or just the 1952 Embargo, it froze weapons tech in place so that any future war would, hopefully be less destructive than the last one. It also meant that some people had to find new fields of work, boosting research and development of technology that the population believes to be of social value.
All research is open access along with data sets, in line with the Open Access Treaty, meaning all research can be accessed and debated. If anything is deemed to breach the 1952 Embargo people will often boycott and protest the company or research institute. Closed research does go on in secret but it’s rare. Bringing anything to the public or using the results in any way will clearly demonstrate a breach of the OA Treaty since the research and data sets won’t be publically available.
There are many self-organised groups, called syndicates, on Xenshana. Below are some of the best known.
- Primary colour: Green
- Secondary colour: Yellow
With the slow dissolution of government across Xenshana, there is a need to coordinate between the different syndicates, to put groups in touch with each other, to show people the new way of decentralised governance and to preach its connection to Ubuntuism and other traditional value systems. Mabwe Prima is one of the groups that perform these functions. Well connected across Xenshana, delegates from Mabwe Prima can often be found abroad in the countries that still cling to outdated notions of ownership, money and central government, patiently advocating for a better way.
The Andromeda Initiative
- Primary colour: Blue
- Secondary colour: Green
A group of scientists and technologists, the Andromeda Initiative is always trying to push boundaries of what can be created, and what uses their creations can be applied to. The Andromeda Initiative pioneered both the 1952 Embargo on Research into Technology of a Destructive Nature and the Open Access Treaty. They rightfully see themselves as one of the pillars that modern Xenshana rests on. Constantly prototyping new forms of technology, the Andromeda Initiative provide support to groups all across Xenshana.
- Primary colour: Red
- Secondary colour: Black
A loose alliance of idealists and radicals, Kugenda Praxis insist on secrecy and freedom while continually working towards decentralisation in all its facets. The cipher punks of Kugenda Praxis were the first to build the framework of the Dream that enjoyed mass adoption, making sure that the volumes of data being gathered could only be accessed by the individual concerned, who could grant and revoke permissions with ease. This success drives them to envisage what could be beyond the Dream, among other things, all the while refusing to compromise on their staunch ideals.
The Fènghuáng-Phoenix Coalition
- Primary colour: Silver
- Secondary colour: Blue
Commonly known as the FPC or The Coalition, the syndicate is composed of Dreamers, those that share their bodies with Dreamers and those that work closely with the Dreamers. As well as offering their knowledge and wisdom to many other syndicates through delegates, the Fènghuáng-Phoenix Coalition also maintain a strong relationship with the different organisations maintaining the memory vault network and the Dream itself. The FPC sees themselves as facilitators, connecting humanity to the Dream and its benefits.
Below are some of the best known figures from Xenshana, past and present. Due to the Dream, past is a relative concept as people can come back to continue the roles they had in life, or take up entirely new ones.
- Rumali Vonumba – Leader of the African Concurrence during the high war
- Chukodzi Tontika – pioneering terraformer who is credited with a large part of the successful Martian program
- Shohma Zvaianai – One of the current leaders of the African Concurrence
- Nehwari Mathtariro – Famous poet
- Hwanda Zivagai – Mathematician and cryptographer that contributed to the Dreaming
- Ruata Tinederai – Famous writer
- Goroyo Mayi – famous dancer
- Kamaa Lumwere – famous anthropologist
- Zifaro Jenesu – Famous sculptor
- Mozi Isheaema – the computer scientist that laid the groundwork and designs for the Dreaming
Zhong Guo Dynasty
- Èfú Wài – Famous botanist
- Biānzi Cāng – Famous actor
- Niàng Xiào – Leader of the Zhong Guo Dynasty during the High War
- Shīǎo Zhéng – richest person in the world
- Gōng li Zhè – famous astrophysicist working on manned missions to far flung planets
- Dà niú Fāng – military officer who distinguished themselves in the High War, is now one of the rulers of the Zhong Guo Dynasty
- Dài xiàng Liāo – famous historian
- Zi shǔ Sōu – famous software engineer that worked on the Dreaming
- Húguī Zhòng – Famous philosopher that worked on the Dreaming
- Tùyú Gáng – famous architect and designer
Below is a translation of the names Earth days and months to Xenshanan days and months
- Monday – Muvhuro
- Tuesday – Chipiri
- Wednesday – Chitatu
- Thursday – China
- Friday – Chishanu
- Saturday – Mugovera
- Sunday – Svondo
- January - Ndira
- February - Kukadzi
- March - Kurume
- April - Kubvumbi
- May - Chivabvu
- June - Chikumi
- July - Chikunguru
- August - Nyamavhuvhu
- September - Gunyana
- October - Gumiguru
- November - Mbudzi
- December – Zvita