Click here to DOWNLOAD the Mombera Rising Anthology.

What is Mombera Rising?

Mombera Rising is a FREE digital anthology of speculative eco-fiction stories envisioning a Ngoni future over the next century, written by Malawian writers Ekari Mbvundula Chirombo and Muthi Nhlema.

This anthology was made possible by the support of the Swedish Research Council, Formas Project No 2020-00670 and the Future Ecosystems For Africa programme at the University of the Witwatersrand in partnership with Oppenheimer Generations Research and Conservation.

Eco-fiction stories envisioning a Ngoni future over the next century

Set in a futuristic Malawi, Mombera Rising consists of three captivating stories, each inviting readers to imagine a preferable future where an indigenous people (the Ngoni tribe of Northern Malawi in this case) have the agency to step away from colonial notions of progress and modernity to manage their natural environments on their own terms, recalling their own knowledge and belief systems.

Straddling the intersection of nature, culture and technology, this anthology is the culmination of over a year’s worth of collaboration, conversation and even some contestation between scientists, writers, artists and the Ngoni community.

What has been created hopefully gives creative voices from the Global South a platform to illuminate alternative paths towards sustainable futures and engage with issues of sustainability from a local, African context.

Download The Mombera Rising Anthology

One anthology. Three Incredible stories.

All Artwork by Simon Banda II


Mombera Rising was as much a journey for the creative team as it was for the characters in the stories. Listen to the podcast series below and find out how the world of Mombera Rising was created and how the experience challenged the assumptions of everyone involved.

Episode 1

Identity and Writing Style:

Learn about how the writers’ personal identities and backgrounds impact their writing styles and story choices.

Episode 2

Decolonisation is Colonised

Balancing cultural sensitivity and literary freedom, especially when one African is writing about another African culture they don’t belong to.

Episode 3

What is a Ngoni future? 

Talking about future-forecasting process with the Ngoni people, the writer’s initial assumptions, and the deconstruction of ‘modernity’ to create a decolonised pathway to an Ngoni future.

Episode 4

Balancing Science and Story

Talking about the Nature Futures Framework and how it contributed to the writing process, particularly in finding the right balance between science and story.

Episode 5

Telling the stories

 Talking about the story creation process, the inspiration for each story, and the role of nature futures in the story.


Through three stories, we are introduced to different visions of how societies can relate to the natural world in more harmonious ways than we are currently. Each works hard to preserve aspects of traditional culture to show that such alternative societal configurations can coexist with solid climate science. The authors are careful to present robust depictions of conservation, reclamation and reforestation within the context of the existing ecosystem…..they all feature strong characters and immersive plots that draw you in and keep you reading to the end. This anthology is a great place to start if you’re interested in eco-fiction from the African continent.

Chinelo Onwaulu, Writer and Editor

Creating a sustainable future requires new stories. By using the Nature Futures Framework as a touchstone this anthology connects culture, society, and nature to illuminate alternative paths towards sustainable futures in Malawi. These stories can serve as a model for other collaborations between scientists and artists, and I hope that other people will be inspired to imagine new stories for their places.

Prof. Garry Peterson , Stockholm Resilience Centre

Storytelling is one of the most powerful ways we have of engaging with big issues, to make it personal, to make it feel real. I’m so excited by these kinds of collaborations and hope there will be many more!

Lauren Beukes, Author

The Writers and Artist

Muthi Nhlema

Muthi Nhlema is a short story writer who accidentally stumbled into the world of African Speculative Fiction and hasn’t figured out where the exit door is yet.

Spotlighted as one of the 100 African Writers of Speculative Fiction and Fantasy by Geoff Ryman, Muthi’s first foray into speculative fiction was his novella, ‘Ta O’Reva’, about the return of Nelson Mandela to a post-apocalyptic South Africa. The novella won third prize at the 2015 International Freeditorial Long-Short Story Competition and was also shortlisted for Best Novella at the inaugural 2017 Nommo Award for African Speculative Fiction, alongside internationally acclaimed writers such as Nnedi Okorafor. An excerpt of the novella, ‘Legacy’ was long-listed for the 2015 Writivism Short Story Prize and was runner-up for the 2015 Dede Kamkondo Short Story Award.

Muthi’s second speculative fiction piece, ‘One Wit’ This Place’, about a broken family trying to survive a world ravaged by climate change, opened the 2016 Imagine Africa 500 anthology, and was later re-published by the Manchester Review in 2017. The story received positive reviews, including a mention by the Nigerian writer and editor Wole Talabi, who called it one of the top 10 African Science Fiction and Fantasy Short Fiction pieces of 2016. Muthi’s other non-speculative fiction piece, ‘Free Seating’, a first-person account of an unpleasant bus-ride with a twist, won the 2015 First Merchant Bank-Malawi Writers’ Union Short Story Prize.

In late 2021, Muthi was selected to participate in the prestigious International Writers Programme at the University of Iowa in the United States, making him the fifth Malawian writer to participate in the residency since its founding in 1967. Since the residency, Muthi has been nursing a stubborn interest in using speculative fiction to reimagine alternate histories and indigenous futures liberated from colonial or western paradigms of progress and modernity (something easier said than done!). This anthology, in its own way, gave Muthi a chance to get off his backside, stop living in his head and take a stab at penning such histories and futures on the taunting wastelands of the blank page.

Ekari Mbvundula Chirombo

Ekari Mbvundula Chirombo is a speculative fiction writer of over 15 short stories, and has won numerous prizes and recognition for her stories, including 2nd Prize in an African-wide, Nigerian-based short story marathon called The Writer 2016.

Her ebook Montague’s Last (published as Ekari Mbvundula) is a short story about a 17th Century African slave in a French dungeon who spends the final moments of his life on an invention which will change the world. Montague’s Last has been adapted into an audio podcast on Strange Horizons, republished in Omenana speculative fiction magazine, and was selected as a subject of study by a masters student at the University of Stellenbosch.

Her story Undying Love, also published in Omenana, is about a young man in Joburg who becomes possessed by an evil spirit, and pushes the love of his life away to protect her, only for her to return to try and free him. Undying Love was added to the long list nominations for the 2020 Nommo Awards, and was also added to the Nebula Recommended Reading List.

She is the founder of the Story Ink Africa: Storytelling Sessions, where up-and-coming writers from around Malawi would read their stories to a live audience. She now edits books under her company Story Ink Africa: Writing Services. –

Simon Banda II

Simon Banda II is a 29-year-old multi-award winning graphic designer, and digital painter. He has been working in the design space for over a decade. With a keen understanding of color harmony, his work is usually colorful, even though it mostly depicts darker themes. He spends what’s left of his free time listening to rock/metal music to feed his strange essence. No surprises there. He aims to explore more African futuristic themes in his work, as it is one of his core passions. This anthology gave him a chance to indulge this long-held passion. You can find him online as @killsimao


Liam Carpenter
PhD Candidate

Liam Carpenter-Urquhart is a writer and scientist based in Stockholm. He is currently pursuing a doctorate in Sustainability Science at the Stockholm Resilience Centre, where he studies visions of the future and their influence on sustainability action at multiple scales.

Liam is well-familiar with the loose boundary between science and creative writing. His previous excursions include a BA in Physics and Literary Arts from Brown University, a collaborative cycle of poems composed for the Organism for Poetic Research, and editing contributions for popular science books and literary magazines. While pursuing his MSc at the Stockholm Resilience Centre, Liam was thrilled to help facilitate the visioning workshop that inspired these stories. He didn’t know then that the experience would push him headfirst into sustainability futures, which does appear to be his career now.

Laura Pereira
Principal Investigator

Laura Pereira is an Associate Professor in Sustainability Transformations and Futures at the Global Change Institute at Wits University and a researcher at the Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University. She is an interdisciplinary sustainability scientist, having been trained in ecology, law, zoology and human geography. Following her undergraduate at Wits, she went on to complete her DPhil in Geography at Oxford University in 2012, before undertaking post-docs in sustainability science at Harvard’s Kennedy School and at the University of Cape Town. She has subsequently worked at Stellenbosch University, City University of London and Utrecht University.

Laura is interested in the interface between indigenous and local knowledges and innovation, the role of futures techniques and visioning in enabling transformative change and developing innovative methods for knowledge co-production in Global South contexts. Her work is now extending into how equity and justice can be incorporated into discussions of transformative interventions to stay within safe and just earth system boundaries. She is passionate about inter and trans-disciplinary research processes and works closely with artists and writers in her current research, specifically in operationalizing the Nature Futures Framework. As part of this, she has been able to combine her love for speculative fiction with her research, which has resulted in her editing this anthology.

Maganizo Kruger Nyasulu
PhD Candidate

Maganizo Kruger Nyasulu is an interdisciplinary sustainability scientist and fiction literature enthusiast. He is a PhD candidate at the Stockholm Resilience Center, Stockholm University, where he investigates how global changes driven by anthropogenic action impact water and land use for livelihood. His academic roots are in economics, system dynamics, and sustainable development at the University of Malawi and Uppsala University.

Maganizo is deeply invested in innovation and transformative actions that aim to bridge the gap between science and practice. This passion led him to participate in a future visioning workshop in Malawi, which not only inspired this anthology but also reflected his commitment to integrating his work with his ardour for knowledge co-production, art, speculative writing, and gamification.

Bwalya Chibwe
PhD Candidate

Bwalya Chibwe is a dedicated conservationist, wildlife crime consultant, and co-founder of the Women for Conservation Network in Zambia. Her extensive experience combating wildlife trafficking is complemented by a commitment to incorporating Indigenous and local knowledge and practices into conservation efforts. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Ecology, a Master’s degree in Conservation Genetics and Wildlife Forensics and a Master’s degree in Fish and Wildlife Population Management.

Bwalya has worked for a variety of organizations, including the University of Zambia and Wildlife Crime Prevention Zambia. Furthermore, she has worked as an independent researcher for C4ADS, as a consultant for the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime, and as a research assistant at Stockholm University, Stockholm Resilience Centre, and Linköping University’s Department of Thematic Studies – Environmental Change in Sweden. The focus of her doctoral research at Linköping University is the role of digital technologies in the prevention of environmental crime.

Made possible by

Future Ecosystems For Africa

A unique opportunity for an Africa-led, Africa-centred program, which can influence thinking and action in novel, as yet unexplored ways