Okay I may have stolen the idea of “Martian Swahili” from a book series by Janet and Isaac Asimov I was obsessed with as a kid. But when you unpack it, that’s a pretty profound thing to put in a kids’ book and then have stick in the mind of a young future cartoonist– that Mars was colonized by (predominantly?) Swahili-speakers.

There’s also a short story in Ray Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles that has Mars colonized by African Americans escaping from a world where the Civil Rights Movement never happened. So I guess Mars being colonized by Black people is sort of a trope. For now it seems like a positive trope rather than a harmful one, though, so I’m going with it.

Actually the history of settlement on Mars in my story is a little more complicated than that, but, the full backstory can wait for now. Enough Swahili-speakers from East Africa moved there for their language (or a 500+ year version thereof with some Hindi loan words) to survive. That’s what you need to know.

↓ Transcript
Panel 1: Young Maida inhales the cold air deeply.
Panel 2: She falls back, happily, onto the snow.
Panel 3: She gets up when a voice calls her from a yellow, round and spiky structure. Maida's voice-over: "I was born on Mangala. What you would call 'Mars.'" Maida's mum: "Maida!"
Panel 4: Maida runs across the snowy plain to where her mother is waiting for her. Voice-over: "It was a beautiful planet. Stark. Deadly. But beautiful. We dreamt of long, cool summers while we spent long, frigid winters huddled in our bunkers." Maida's mum (who's speaking Martian Swahili): "It's not summer yet, Maida-girl! You'll catch your death out here."
Panel 5: Maida's mum gives her a hug. Maida's mum: "You're not even wearing a hat!" Maida: "Mama-ji! I was only out for a minute!"