Embers crack and glow with the hypnotising unfurling of smoke from a traditional Imphepho
smudge stick – a sacred African herb used in traditional ceremonies to plead to ancestors and drive away evil spirits. But the blessing of a mother giving birth seems in vain. Despite the intervention of YOUNG DOCTORS and A NURSE, she passes away. But her child shrieks to life – a new-born called THABO.
11 YEARS LATER. To the people of Kholwani, salvation is at hand! MAYOR GABI has just welcomed SAAJ JOSHI, the CEO of global telecom monopoly, FutureCOM, to the stage – the man who single-handedly saved them by choosing their rural and forgotten mining town to become home to the Africa’s single biggest radio tower array. It has brought jobs, prosperity, and hope. Or as the countless propaganda billboards put it, finally they can “Connect to a Better Future!” Especially when Saaj and his chief engineer, DR. IBIS, gift them with their latest smart device – THETA – connecting everyone to their AI-controlled social super neural communication network.
But not everyone is caught up in the hype. Young Thabo (now 11) is engaged in an imaginative super-battle with his friend, CHEESE, and his own brother, SIMON, to win a brand-new rocket launcher. And when Thabo (through the help of Cheese’s younger sister, POPPI) emerges victorious, Simon loses it. In no time, the brothers are at each other’s throats, literally, and Thabo fires his rocket towards Simon, only to see it land beyond the junkyard fence on FutureCOM’s property. Humiliated and distraught, Thabo is left alone as the others head home.
Set on retrieving his rocket, he shifts a few old oil drums, climbs to the top, and is about to lunge over the fence into FutureCOM’s property when AN OSCILLATING HUM sounds from the main Theta radio telescope he can see in the distance. Then, silence. Suddenly it emits strobing red light that flickers into his eyes! He’s mesmerised, transfixed, spellbound as its hypnotic pull induces a vision of an apocalyptic future: A gigantic eye floating over the Theta radio telescope array, feeding into the minds of thousands of people, controlling them. The energy builds, but before it reaches its climax, Thabo’s makeshift tower wobbles and collapses, sending him tumbling down to eat a mouth full of dirt.
When Thabo comes to, his vision is blurred, and his nose is bleeding. When he eventually focusses, and the ringing in his ears disappear, he sees a shrouded figure with white, blind eyes loom over him – BASIR – the local town lunatic. He grabs Thabo’s chest and demands to know “What did you see?!” But Thabo kicks back and frees himself from the mad man’s grasp and heads home, radioing Cheese and Poppi to say he saw something he can’t explain – he needs to show them.
From this point onward, try as he may, Thabo’s life will never be the same.
When Thabo arrives home for dinner, he immediately tries to tell his brother what he saw. But Simon is completely distracted by the gift his father gave him – a Theta device. Regardless, Thabo tries to explain, only to have ZONDA, his father, dismiss him and tell him to grow up. After a brief quarrel, Thabo loses his temper once more and accidentally knocks his grandfather’s, Yousuf’s, medication off the table. Thabo is sent to his room.
Yousuf, comes to comfort Thabo and gives him an early birthday gift for the next day – a pendant with a tiny Imphepho flower that belonged to his mother, Aster. Thabo asks his grandfather about her and if she’d believe him and the things he’d seen. His grandfather says of course, “she was just like you, special,” but Thabo dismisses it, thinking his grandfather is just trying to comfort him. Always tired from his medication, his grandfather goes to bed and leaves Thabo alone with the pendant.
Just then, Cheese and Poppi arrive. They want to know what Thabo saw, but now Thabo is doubting himself, thinking it was just his overactive imagination. They insist he shows them anyway – even if it was nothing way, he can get his rocket back. Thabo reluctantly agrees to go on this mission.
Back at the junkyard fence, Thabo talks them through what happened as they climb the oil drums. At the top, just as we expect to see what he saw earlier, it’s exactly as he feared – there’s nothing. So, they jump the fence and head towards the rocket. But as soon as Thabo pulls it from the ground, a spotlight blinds them, and guards appear out of nowhere. Moments later, SUVs and military vehicles pull up and out climbs Mayor Gabi with her entourage of FutureCOM guards.
Cheese and Poppi and Thabo insist they were just playing. But after pressing the kids for their names without any luck, Gabi orders a guard to “log” them with a Theta device and take them to DR. IBIS for questioning. T guard lifts the device to Thabo’s eye and just as it powers up and the iris of its camera opens, for a split second, Thabo’s mind diverges and aberrates again! The device glitches and the guard stands confused as to why it’s not working. In that moment of distraction, one-by-one the guards’ spotlights shut down and everyone is surrounded in darkness.
Whispering, echoing voices seem to come from every corner as shadowy figures move around them. The guards draw their weapons and just as Thabo, whose mind is still dissonant and eyes glitching, looks up, he sees a man shrouded in darkness disarm and immobilise the guards with lightning-fast physical combat! They’re helpless against this shadow man – or are there more than one? Gabi is escorted back to her SUV as Cheese and Poppi and Thabo make a run for It between the old, rusting shipping containers.
It doesn’t take long before they’re lost, but luckily the same shadowy figure guides them to safety. Once they’re safe, they find themselves in the hideout of none other than Basir – it’s the same shrouded figure that wanted to know what Thabo saw earlier that day. And that’s exactly what he demands to know again – “What did you see?”
Cheese, Poppi, and Thabo aren’t sure they can trust him, but eventually Thabo admits he saw some sort of vision – a gigantic monster covered in eyes looming over Kholwani, controlling people’s minds with streams of power flowing towards them. “The Guug,” Basir mumbles. Thabo asks, “the what?” Basir tells Thabo he mustn’t doubt his powers, it may just be the only way to stop FutureCOM. The children dismiss him, saying FutureCOM has done nothing but help their people. Basir says they don’t know what they’re dealing with, but he does. How? He shows them his old FutureCORP jacket – he used to work for them.
Then Basir begs Thabo, “Open your eyes!” The words clearly move him. Still, Thabo and Cheese and Poppi refuse the call and dismiss the mad man’s ramblings. They insist he let them go. He tells them, “You are free… but for how long you must decide.” And again, he tells Thabo, “Open your eyes, Thabo!”
Later that day, Thabo joins his grandfather to go visit his mother’s grave. When his grandfather, tired from his medication rests his eyes, a mysterious woman approaches Thabo – AFYA – a local traditional healer/sangoma. It comes to light that she not only knew Thabo’s mother, Aster, but that she was there the day Thabo was born. The day his mother passed in childbirth. She tells Thabo how similar he is to his mother, and that they share a gift. When he asks her what she means, she simply tells him, “Open your eyes, Thabo.” It can’t be a coincidence. And so, Thabo is spurred on to return to the mad Basir to ask him to do exactly that – to open his eyes.
And Basir does just that. Taking Thabo into his secret hideout, Thabo learns that Basir was a FutureCOM engineer, and helped them research people with special abilities – people who can will things they imagine into existence. Thabo is sceptical, so Basir shows him. He hooks Thabo up to a machine that magnifies his brain waves, revealing yet another apocalyptic vision of what FutureCOM has created. Their Theta programme has become sentient and will be used to control the minds of humanity. But it doesn’t end there. Basir pushes Thabo, revealing that Thabo has the ability to use his imagination to manipulate reality!
Basir can’t believe it. Thabo possesses the very power FutureCOM has been trying to harness for their nefarious means. But Thabo is stricken with self-doubt. If what Basir says is true, then his brother, Simon may already be done for.
That night, Thabo decides to head back home, and try and separate Simon from his Theta, hoping he could save him. But it backfires. Simon has been turned and immediately tries to use his Theta to infiltrate Thabo’s mind. As soon as he does, Thabo’s powers converge and overpower the Theta device, sending a massive Theta spike that’s detected by FutureCOM.
A massive manhunt ensues. Simon, Mayor Gabi, and Dr. Ibis all try to capture Thabo, but Basir comes to the rescue yet again, sacrificing himself so Thabo can get away.
After coming clean to Poppi and Cheese about his botched attempt to save his brother, Thabo and his friends realise the only way they’ll ever beat FutureCOM is with Basir’s help. So, they decide to break into the FutureCOM HQ to save him. But again, their plan backfires. Thabo is captured by Saaj and Dr. Ibis. It is then that Thabo realises the true extent of FutureCOM’s surveillance and power. Dr. Ibis is busy doing another uplink test and as they push the system, Thabo can see visions of what they are creating – a gigantic, all-seeing being powered by the converging energy emitted from the Theta array. Then, they turn their attention to Thabo and do their worst – they infiltrate Thabo’s mind and rob him of his imagination.
Back home, all seems normal, except to Thabo’s grandfather, Yousuf. He can see what has been done to Thabo, and so convinces him to go with him to visit an old friend – Afya – the sangoma and very same friend of his mother that witnessed his birth. With her knowledge of the spiritual world and ancestors, she is able to reconnect Thabo with the memory of his mother. A memory so vivid and lucid that it unlocks the powers within him. A power never thought possible. A power that will allow him to battle FutureCOM’s horrific Guug and perhaps even save his own brother, Simon.
Reignited to save the people of Kholwani, Thabo reconnects with Cheese and Poppi. But a new attack on FutureCOM only sees their plan thwarted by Simon helping their enemy. But he didn’t act alone! Thabo’s own father has crossed over and is hell bent on helping them. Determined to get rid of their obstacle, Saaj orders Dr. Ibis to use the Theta technology to take control of Thabo’s mind once and for all – he unleashes the full might of the Guug upon young Thabo.
As the Guug coils and rears like a massive mind-control cobra, it strikes down upon Thabo. Like a poison, its frequency filters through his veins, up towards his face, causing Thabo to grasp at his neck and feel – his mother’s old pendant! He forms a direct connection with her memory. And, in a last ditched effort, Thabo takes the pendant with its tiny flower, and stabs the Guug in its all-seeing eye, sending a shockwave of emotive memory out through Kholwani, and giving Thabo direct power over what everyone sees!
In an instant, Thabo opens Simon and his father’s eyes to the truth. Then, with their help, along with Cheese, Poppi, Aster, and Basir, they attack the Guug and help Thabo to implode it, releasing all of Kholwani from its spell, and bringing FutureCOM to its knees by exposing their true motives.
But Thabo is mortally wounded in the process. Poppi begs him, “Open your eyes, Thabo,” but he can’t.
In the end, real or not, Thabo’s conviction and imagination revealed the reality of FutureCOM’s intentions, and paved the way for Cheese, Poppi, Simon and Basir to use the remnants of FutureCOM’s own array and prepare for the next, even bigger battle – one for not only the soul of Africa, but the entire world.

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