Amara Beshir & Assegai Developments

Amara Beshir can be considered to be the person who brought AG racing to Africa. Although this isn’t exactly true, Beshir did play an important role in the decision to expand the sport into the African continent and, in turn, establish Africa’s leading AG research corporation, Assegai Developments.

Beshir was born on 23 February 2077 in Cairo, Egypt. Her father was an executive businessman from a French sporting goods manufacturer (who had minor involvement with AG racing), so the family spent a considerable amount of time living in France. It’s unclear that it was because of her father’s job or from general exposure, but Beshir was very interested in AG racing from a young age. By the age of 15 she was racing in the European junior leagues at quite a competitive level. She would win the European Vector Championship in 2100 and was employed as a FEISAR test pilot the next year.

But what was quite noticeable about Beshir was her belief in Pan-Africanism. Since the early 21st century, the African nations had co-operated with each other to pursue greater economic and civil reform for all African nations. By the end of the century, Africa had became, if not already, key player in international politics and economy (through the African Union and several of its member nations such as South Africa, the East African Federation and the Arab-African nations). However, it was not completely stable. To aid their neighbouring countries as well as to recover from a downturn in their national markets, South Africa merged with neighbouring Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland to form the United African Nations in 2100 (but still referenced themselves by their former nationalities).

With a maturing socio-economic status in comparison with the rest of the world, it became obvious to the F5000 AG Race Commission that AG racing needed an African team. When Pierre Belmondo announced the plans to upgrade the F5000 to F7200 specification, he announced the potential to introduce new teams in the new League, with at least one to be African. As such in 2112, the F5000 Commission sent an invite to the African Union for them to compete in the new F7200 League.

Amara Beshir expressed great interest in the plan and lobbied the heads of FEISAR to associate herself with the establishment of the team. By this point, she had moved away from ship testing to become more involved in the administration of the company as a whole. Beshir was named as one of the heads of the new team. Over the next couple of months, Beshir would work with many businessman and engineers, African representatives and former African pilots (including Africa’s first world champion, Jacob Van Vuuren). Beshir worked particularly closely with the ship the new team would race. Above all, she emphasized on the handling of the craft, so that the pilots that will control the craft would have a good starting point if they want to pursue the sport further (this came from experience with FEISAR). The pre-season testing of the ship at the Makgadikgadi salt pan showed a quick ship with extraordinary agility. This prompted Beshir to rename the team from “Team Africa” to “Team Assegai”, after the traditional South African long spear.

The success of the ship in the Cross-Africa Sprint Cup, along with the added boost in the national GNP for the UAN prompted Beshir to take the team to the next level. After six months of lobbying to both the UAN and the AU, Beshir reconstructed the team into a fully-fledged AG development company called “Assegai Developments”, with Beshir as its president.

Whilst the team produced some respectable finished on the track, Beshir continued to make the company as African as possible and in turn benefit the continent as a whole. The main example was the re-establishment of AG racing in Africa by way of the African AG Sprint Championships, where the winning pilot would be offered a racing seat with Assegai for the following F7200 championship. This produced some great African talent; most notable was Roland Ncita, who would help pilot Assegai to their maiden Championship victory in 2127.

By this point, Beshir had diverted her attention to the F7200 Commission. When Pierre Belmondo passed away in the same year as Assegai’s victory, Beshir nominated herself to replace him. However, she was just beaten by Briton Roger Bowen, but instead held an advisory role on the F7200 board. When Overtel finally took over the Commission in 2132, her position on the board became increasingly strained as Overtel kept increasing the media value of the sport rather than promoting international sportsmanship and technological development. Eventually, she would resign from her advisory role with the Commission and went back to Assegai as President once more. Also, she had become a member of the Belmondo Foundation, which had often clashed with Overtel over League policy.

Because of this political conflict, in addition to the stresses of supporting the company in this period of AG racing, Beshir decided to step down from the presidency and retire in 2140, passing on the role of President to Dannie Maringa, Assegai’s former Team Principal. This may have seen as a good step for Beshir as she had started to display some health problem in the later years of her career, eventually being crippled after a massive stroke in 2141 which left her in a coma for several weeks. Beshir would recover marginally, but would succumb to complications from this stroke on 6 May 2144.

For a lot of African AG fans, the loss of Beshir was a major tragedy for the promotion and performance of their continent abroad as she was seen as Africa in the AG community. Some critics claim that it was no surprise that Assegai declined substantially during the 2140s and was eventually bought out by Piranha (the team who had expressed the most interest in Assegai) in 2150. But, differing from the fates of AG Systems and Qirex, Piranha kept Assegai functioning as a semi-independent body (as a sign of their respect for the Africans). Assegai’s patent stability technology was used in the development of the HFS-T Push-Pull Stabilizers used on their Swiftkiller F9000 ship, which contributed to Piranha’s dominance during this period of racing.

Although indirectly, many people (including Pierre Belmondo) believe that Amara Beshir was a pioneer of the sport, despite appearing long after the invention of the sport, by bringing it to the plains of Africa for the first time.