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The Ma'Ati is a new digital storytelling platform featuring an interactive travel webzine and an epic adventure narrative.
The Ma'Ati is an upcoming online epic novel and indie travel magazine.
The Ma'Ati is an upcoming online epic novel and indie travel magazine.
203 backers pledged $13,324 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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The Ma'Ati: An Online Novel & Travel Magazine

$13,324

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The Ma’Ati Magazine is a digital, global storytelling experience unlike any other. It is a hybrid platform, one-part novel and one-part travel webzine, all inspired by and told through the lens of a legendary nation of magical nomads.

The Ma’Ati means "two truths" and these people were known as the traveling youth. This had little to do with their age and everything to do with their hunger for stories, their zest for new experiences and their belief in magic. Because there was once a time when a nation existed whose only trade lay in the stories they collected and told. These demigods had been sent to Earth as protectors of mankind after saving humanity from the wrath of their uncle, Chaos. You can read their 'Origins' story here

The Official Ma'Ati National Icon
The Official Ma'Ati National Icon

Unfortunately, the jealousy of some world rulers caught up to the Ma'Ati a few centuries ago, forcing nearly the entire nation to flee for their lives. But the Ma'Ati name continues to be used on Earth as a term that extends to that part in all of us that yearns for places we have yet to see and friends we have yet to meet. 

After living in Paris, France as a freelance journalist for nearly two years, and being a nomad for several more, I had a growing list of friends asking me for website recommendations that could help them plan trips overseas. They wanted to know the best clubs to go to around the world. They wanted to know where the cool, weird kids hung out. They wanted to see local art. They wanted food that looked straight out of Pinterest. And most importantly, they wanted to know which places were "people of color" friendly. 

What I found was that there was no one website for all that. Travel sites were either too boring, too homogenous or too focused on tourism and not authentic, local experiences. It was frustrating. 

So I decided to create something that I would want to read and see: one publication composed of two parts. An ongoing, illustrated book series and a cool, little travel webzine.  

First, there is the novel, The Ma’Ati. It will live on themaati.com and will feature a portion of the first book of an epic series free of charge. Each month, a new chapter of the Ma’Ati story will be illustrated and published online, featuring a new global destination. 

The homie, Zulu the bike, makes a guest appearance. Illustration by Paul Davey
The homie, Zulu the bike, makes a guest appearance. Illustration by Paul Davey

The plot of the story follows Shamira, a character based loosely off myself. She is a young American woman in the throes of a quarter-life crisis who stumbles onto clues of her family’s mysterious heritage. Shamira quickly embarks on an adventure around the world that finds her retracing the footsteps of her ancestors and challenging how far she might go to unveil the fate of a nation.

Why did I make myself into a character? Because I know everyone can't afford to travel, for both monetary and personal reasons. So what better way to bring the world to everyone on the internet than through a story? 

I have decided to use real events from my own trips to write the scenes and create the characters in my story. Because of this, each chapter in the Ma’Ati series requires me to travel to a new destination and document my experiences. I have already drafted the plot and the locations for two books and the overall story arch for years to come. But the intricate details of each chapter are and will be informed by my current and future travels to different cities, towns, and secret hideaways around the world.

Cherry Blossom festival in Washington, DC. By Shamira
Cherry Blossom festival in Washington, DC. By Shamira

Alongside this, I am producing the second part, a web-based travel magazine hosted on themaatimag.co. It will include content that compliments each chapter’s exotic destination. While the novel represents the importance of remembering our history and past storytelling, the travel magazine is an interactive space for you and I to explore the present. I’ll show you cool travel gadgets, beautiful boutique hotels, and luscious scenery. I’ll introduce you to some of the coolest kids my team and I meet, and highlight parties and festivals you may want to check out. 

And it’s here that you can introduce yourself and tell your story. I want to know what’s happening in your part of the world, and what the youth there are concerned about. I want to know what foods I should try and where I need to visit asap!! The Ma’Ati magazine is for the Ma'Ati in all of us. We can, and should, build a global community of traveling youth in honor of the way of the Ma’Ati, exploring and sharing our most sacred spaces.

Where your hard-earned money will be headed.
Where your hard-earned money will be headed.

I need to finish traveling for the first book, paying for art work commissions and designing the website for the book and novel. Although I’m pretty proud of all that I’ve accomplished, I’ve been paying for everything completely out of pocket. Everything from filing copyrights to paying artists, web developers, web hosts, and merchandise suppliers to travel costs have come from my paltry earnings. Not to mention the cost of time needed to write a story. 

Ebooks for everyone! (Not final cover, but still pretty.)
Ebooks for everyone! (Not final cover, but still pretty.)

The Ma’Ati is a completely independent venture and I’d like to keep it that way with very selective sponsorship. This will allow me to retain as much artistic and editorial freedom as possible and continue evolving the story of the Ma’Ati. And it’s all possible with your help kickstarting us into existence! 

Rewards!!
Rewards!!

Your donations will allow me to devote the time I need to finish writing the first Ma’Ati story, to travel to the remaining locations in order to write and complete my chapters, to pay artists to create original illustrations, and to create a soft-launch for sites for both the web-magazine and the novel.

Habana Vieja, Cuba. Taken this past December
Habana Vieja, Cuba. Taken this past December

It’s been an exciting year! I’ve traveled through Washington, D.C.; Alabama; New Orleans; Jamaica; Harlem; and Cuba and written drafts of six chapters of the Ma’Ati’s first book. Some of my favorite adventures have included discovering a secret art collective in DC, scouring the best of Kingston’s fashion scene, and interviewing singer Valerie June and reggae artist Chronixx. Best of all, these moments are chronicled in my narrative!

Paris je t'aime.
Paris je t'aime.

Hi everyone! It's pretty exciting to get to know the future Ma'Ati community. First things first: I am a very proud graduate of Howard University, where I received a Bachelors in Political Science and a minor in Classics. While there, I studied in Egypt and France. My graduate studies were completed at New York University, where I received a dual-degree Masters in Africana Studies and Global Journalism. 

What's cool is that I have actually been a nomad my entire life. My first few years of life were spent in Los Angeles and soon after my family moved to Birmingham and Montgomery, Alabama; Maryland and Florida. Thus, adventure, exploration and a keen curiosity for the new and unknown became an innate part of my life and personality.

Since graduation, I've worked as a freelance producer for France24 news in Paris and contributing writer for several websites, including Africa’s A Country, The Guardian UK, the Liberator Magazine, ArtFetch and The Huffington Post. I co-created an indie newspaper, The Super Sunday Times, while living in Paris, France and wrote the liner notes for the musician Patrice's limited release vinyl. In film, I’ve served as a production assistant, project manager and translator for Al-Jazeera Investigations in Paris and GWonders Productions in Brooklyn, New York.

I’m pretty excited about the small, but growing, team of young creatives that have helped to bring the Ma’Ati to life so far. 

The two websites that comprise the Ma'Ati are being designed and developed by the Zimbabwean art collective, WETU (which means 'ours). They are also the designers behind the 'Origins' page at themaati.com

Mousai Art Collective
Mousai Art Collective

Gaje Jones, the founder of the DC based Mousai Art Collective, has done some cool video work for this project.

Two incredible artists have already created amazing illustrations for the Ma’Ati. 

Taj Francis
Taj Francis

Taj Francis, the mastermind behind the beautiful Ma'Ati 'Origins' artwork, is a visual artist from Kingston, Jamaica, and a graduate of the Edna Manley School of Art. His work can be seen on the album covers of several noted reggae artist as well as in some of the most prestigious galleries in Jamaica. Check him out at tajtenfold.com.

Paul Davey
Paul Davey

Paul Davey is an artist originally from Manchester, Jamaica, now residing in New York City. He is currently in the process of illustrating his original video game, Earthnight, for Playstation and was recently the cover artist for Wonder Woman #6. Paul is developing an amazing graphic novel, and you can keep up with the details at mattahan.com.

Cassia Reynolds is an amazing nomadic contributing writer and photographer. A recent graduate of New York University, she just spent the last 8 months backpacking around Southeast Asia after a year spent living in Australia. Get some wanderlust over at her site

Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum
Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum

In order to complete the first book in the Ma'Ati series, I still need to visit 6 more places. I'd like to keep them a surprise for the moment, but I'm giving a huge hint for one of them above. The Ma'Ati websites will launch in January, but beginning in October, I will be chronicling behind the scenes stories of my Kickstarter trips PLUS amazing new features for the magazine. 

Be sure to stay up to date in the meantime at themaatimag.tumblr.com.

Let's make this happen! Help me kickstart a traveling youth's guide to the universe.

As featured in:

Risks and challenges

The Ma’Ati is native to the internet, and we are going to use our home to tell a multi-medium story that is as exciting as its namesake. But there are risks to publishing a book online.

There's the risk of folks pirating my work, and making it difficult to publish the novel for free. Therefore, I'm offering only the first half of the book online in order to test its reception.

Writing a book is tricky and the editing process can be long and arduous. I would love to be finished writing and editing and ready to ship e-books off by February 2016, but there is a chance that it may need to be pushed back so that you get the best book I can give you. Nonetheless, the six chapters will be published online beginning in January.

Travel is full of risks, which is why I love it. The six trips I need to take to complete the first installment of the Ma'Ati series have been planned out, and I have taken this route before. However, because the first Ma'Ati book has been thoroughly brainstormed, I can alter travel plans at any time to include a previously unforeseen location. I will also have all my documents, photos and other digital goods backed up on a daily basis in three different locations off and online. No matter where I'm traveling to, as long as I have internet, I can bring you a good story.

I won't let you guys down! :)

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    The Kioni || Name in e-book, Postcard from the road

    Kioni was the youngest of the original Ma'Ati, but by no means was she insignificant.

    You'll be listed amongst the names of donors in the e-book, alongside a gracious social media shout out. You'll become a member of #teammaati, and I'll send you a handwritten postcard featuring original art from the Ma'Ati!

    (The e-book will be released in approx. February 2016.)

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    The Ede || Digital copy of Ma'Ati Novel

    Ede's name means "scribe."

    It's so exciting to offer you a digital ebook/epub/kindle bundle of the first novel in the Ma'Ati series. It will come fully stocked with original illustrations and exclusive photos from my trips alongside the story. (As an added bonus, I'm including a digital copy of "Gumdrop," an extraordinary dramatic short book I wrote when I was 9 years old.)

    Plus everything at the Kioni level.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    The Rahi || Member of Exclusive Ma'Ati Google Hangout Group

    Rahi means guidance.

    As the Ma'Ati magazine grows, we want to make sure we're getting guidance from the traveling youth who support us! I am so excited to offer you the opportunity to have a monthly group Google hangout session with me for six months. I'll give updates on all my travels, answer questions about the novel, and hear suggestions for the development of the magazine.

    Plus everything at the Ede + Kioni levels.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    The Bala || Become a character in the novel

    Those named Bala tell stories. And also appear in them. And now you can too! Become a character in the Ma'Ati story at this tier. I will write your likeness and name into the story as an auxiliary character.

    Plus everything at the Kioni + Ede + Rahi Levels

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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    The Banni || 13"x19" Print of "Origins" Artwork

    One of the Ma'Ati's biggest sources of pride is the beautiful artwork that surrounds our story. So we're proud to offer you a limited run print of Taj Franc's artwork for "Origins." Your piece will be numbered and accompanied by a custom note from me.

    Plus everything at the Bala + Rahi + Ede + Kioni levels

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    The Djehuty || Sponsor Posts for a Month on the Ma'Ati magazine site.

    The daddy of all rewards. If you have a brand appropriate for the Ma'Ati, we're offering the opportunity to have native ads on the Ma'Ati site, and through our social media channels, for one month. Sponsorship at a steal!

    Plus everything at the Kioni + Ede + Rahi + Bala + Banni levels

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    The Ma'at ||

    The most beautiful of tiers and exchanges. I'd love to meet you in one of the 6 places I'll be traveling to, treating you to a day of exploring, with pauses for lunch, tea and dinner. (Sorry, but airfare and lodging aren't included.)

    Plus all above tiers.

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Funding period

- (30 days)