Many of our early readers have described the Sky Sage as a polygamous marriage between Harry Potter, Game of Thrones and Naruto, and I cant really argue with them. For one thing I haven't read any of the Potter of GoT books, nor seen a single episode of Naruto. Secondly, I suspect its a complement above anything else. I loved the Game of Thrones series (albeit the final season could have been a lot better), and people I look up to have hailed Harry potter as a masterpiece.
In truth, the Sky Sage was inspired by stories of my childhood. I must have been no older than six years old. The nanny would sit me down by a kerosene lantern and tell me stories of how the greedy turtle broke its shell, or how the turtle became the king of the jungle by fooling the proud but stupid lion. She would also tell scarier stories; stories of Madam Koikoi, the dormitory lurking, child stealing, high heel wearing bitch of the night. She only emerges from her dark realm when your parents were away, and could only kidnap you if you were away from your bed. You'll know when she came too. The sound, koi koi koi, will be heard around the halls. May God forgive you if you have one foot out of the bed when she struts pass your room.
There was Papa Lowlow, the pot bellied dancer possessed by a jovial evil spirit. On the surface he appeared happy as he danced and twerked in a pool of his sweat. But deep down he was a tormented bitter man whose only relief was flogging the living daylight out of naughty children. Children were to hold tightly to their parents when they saw him dancing in the market place... or ravaging through garbage... or talking to himself in the bus station.
There was also Mami Wata, the lustful spirit of the water. Girls with mini skirts were her minions. If they ever asked to be alone with you, know they wish to offer you as sacrifice to Mami Wata.
Bush babies were also popular folklore characters. They cried and cried until you went into the bush to find them, only for them to wrap their tongue around you and squeeze the life out of you. Sometimes we would walk passed the bush and my nanny would gasp loudly and swear she saw someone that looked just like Madam Koikoi. Her friend would say she was mistaken.
'Oh no that wasn't Koikoi. That was just a bush baby. Madam Koikoi comes out only at night.'
And so these stories and characters remained real to me, mainly because they never showed them in the telly or talked about them on the radio. They were African... and probably lived in the bush down the lane.