The original settlers of Mawali were dark-skinned refugees from the desert to the west. But the city is many centuries old, and has acquired residents from many places. There are as many non-humans as humans living in Mawali. Many of the city gardeners are Alfar; many of the pavers are Duerfar. Mawali’s preeminent bakery is run by a gnomish man and his wife. And it’s not at all unusual to find people of different races working together on the same project. That’s not to say that Mawali doesn’t suffer from any racism. There are plenty of people, human and otherwise, who cannot accept anyone who is different. These people tend to congregate in small, homogeneous districts. They are mistrustful of all outsiders, but can be downright hateful to members of other races. It is very dangerous to visit these districts at night.
Mawali fashion is as varied and colorful as the city’s flowers. Those whose ancestors came from the desert are still likely to be wearing desert robes, designed for shielding a body from sun and sand. However, they have abandoned the sand-colored robes of their forefathers, and adopted the vibrant colors of the coastal flora. Other immigrants brought the clothing styles and patterns of their homelands with them. Although these styles have changed over the years, adapting to local conditions and customs, their original cultural flavor remains. Beneath all the colors, the leaf-shaped patterns of the forest Alfar are still present, as are the geometrical shapes of the Duerfar, and the herringbone patterns of the northern gnomes. These cultural remnants can also be found in the architecture of their homes, and in the decorations on their crafted goods.
Anyone who lives in Mawali speaks Yoremban but, as with their clothing and architectural styles, many families have retained their ancestral languages as well. This tendency to hold on to their cultural identity, coupled with the high volume of traffic from other nations, means that it’s not unusual for residents to speak three or more languages, especially among those who live and work near the docks.
The people of Mawali are vibrant and diverse, and yet hold a strong sense of community. They hold on tightly to their ancestral heritages, yet happily adopt the cultural styles of the neighbors down the street or the merchant just in from Koenigsburg. They are fiercely individualistic, yet proudly declare themselves Mawali citizens.
This work by Jean Headley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.