Zebra Synthetics CEO
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Zebra Synthetics CEO
Owatha Hlengiwe

Owatha Hlengiwe inherited control of Zebra Synthetics from their adoptive grandmother, Nabinala Mabte, 30 years ago. They were born in one of the poorest parts of Madagascar, where the African Union had started a series of planned communities aimed at fostering technological companies and their employees. Owatha’s parents remain a mystery; most birth certificate archives were lost in the tsunami that razed Madagascar in 2075. The only available public records regarding Owatha’s childhood are those from an orphanage, where it seems they lived since they were at least five years old.

Due to the structure of the technocratic municipality, all public education revolved around preparing engineers and developers for the future of innovation. Owatha has confirmed that it was early on in school where they first encountered programming and robotics, two arts for which they had a remarkable talent that has only grown stronger. When the flood destroyed most of the island’s settlements, these technical skills would be what saved Owatha’s life.

Owatha Draft
Early character concept by Joi Rudin.

They were fourteen when they managed to escape Madagascar by building an android with the autonomous navigational skills and generated force to row to the mainland. Owatha fabricated the robot with parts scavenged from the debris of the planned communities and programmed it on battery-powered terminals they found in wrecked office buildings. These battery-powered terminals were standard in Madagascar, as constant power outages forced employers to provide their employees with autonomous terminals to sustain productivity.

After the massive exodus from the flooded territories within the African Union had somewhat settled, word got around about Owatha’s feat. Their story had captured the attention of local tech pioneer Nabinala Mabte, who sought to find the young prodigy. She took Owatha under her wing during the construction of her company’s grand Monolith, and taught them all she knew. Thus Owatha would become like a grandchild to Nabinala, who never had offspring of her own due to her unyielding work ethic. It was over eight years of tutelage later when Nabinala unexpectedly perished while testing an enhanced cognition implant prototype she had been developing with Owatha. Details regarding this incident are scarce, as Owatha ensured all information was classified. The nature of the implant remains unknown, and the cause of death has never been made public. The Monolith facility, headquarters of the rapidly ascending Zebra Synthetics, was inaugurated shortly after.

Owatha Clothes
Outfit variations by Joi Rudin.

Owatha has a resolute and impassive personality, very reserved and private in demeanor. Upon assuming the role of CEO, Owatha’s personal life has proven to be an enigma, despite hundreds of reporters attempting to spy on them and gather whatever information they can. They reside in a palace-like apartment at the top of the Monolith facility, with no known friends and a reputation for tirelessly working at all times. Some rumors suggest that the closest thing they have to a normal relationship is with entities of Artificial Intelligence and that they maintain some sort of intimacy with one in particular.

Testimony from survivors of the Madagascar flooding, who claim to have known Owatha back at the orphanage, states they once attempted to install a homemade agility module on their dog so it could run faster and jump higher — but ended up electrocuting it. According to these reports, Owatha conveyed no pleasure in the painful demise of their animal companion, but neither did they exhibit any particular guilt. These testimonies support the theory that Owatha views a biological body’s susceptibility to failure as a noble call to push and surpass its earthly limitations.

Owatha Full Body
Full body concept by Joi Rudin.

Although constantly enthralled in the more technical aspects of their work, Owatha has demonstrated an ample capacity for business dealings. Most of Zebra’s competitors have been absorbed into the company at this point, and the speed at which new technologies are developed has nearly doubled under Owatha’s leadership. Would-be rivals have often outright compared Owatha to a machine, saying that they appear to operate non-stop around the clock with unmatched multitasking ability, managing scientific research and all other affairs of the company simultaneously with virtually no impact on performance.

Yet it has been all but officially confirmed that Owatha was diagnosed with a degenerative disease, and only has a few years left to live. While doctors speculate that some implants and interventions could extend their lifespan, Owatha has refused to pursue these options for unknown reasons and continues to put all their effort into their work. Zebra Synthetics insiders are aware the ailing CEO has planned business strategies and projects that surely exceed their remaining time alive, which would seem to indicate that either they have picked a successor or that they don’t acknowledge how close the end is approaching. Perhaps then Owatha simply considers stepping away from their ambitious undertakings to be no better than death itself.

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