Today on Lisa Burton Radio, we’re on the phone with Princess Sithole, all the way from Zimbabwe. I’m your host, Lisa the robot girl. “Welcome Princess.”
“Thank you Madam Lisa! Mangwanani – although that is good morning in Shona. Is it morning with you?”
“Yes, but I think you’re a day ahead of me. My bio says you’re a cook. That has to be a fun job, creating new things and feeding your family. Tell us a little about that.”
“Yes. I cook. It is not always a fun job. In Zimbabwe some years back, and even now again, there is very little food to be bought. One time it got so bad that all I had to cook with was carrots from the garden and Marmite. Still, I am very, very good at cooking, so nobody complained. I suppose you could call it a job – what I do, but I think of it more as caring for my family, Suzette and Herman, and before Felix the cat and Cher the dog too. Hau. Shame. I get sad even now, thinking of them. All my family. Blood and two legs is not everything, you know.”
“It takes a lot of gumption to create something and share it with the world, even if it’s a garlic martini. Your life isn’t all fun and games though. You’ve had to deal with instances of animal cruelty and even murder in your village. How did that effect you?”
“Aah. That garlic martini. It was the one thing that did not bring much praise. Although, as I say, the tasting of it led to the falling off of a chair, so it wasn’t all bad. Laughter is food too sometimes, so I don’t see it as a complete failure. I’m sure that if I drank alcohol I would have enjoyed it. Garlic is wonderful. Before the animals were killed, so cruelly, Cher used to enjoy stealing wine if it was on a low enough table. That old dog suffered a little with arthritis, and being a colonial Labrador, I was not very surprised that she took Chablis for the pain. Very common painkiller with colonials. Mr Mandela, my parrot, too likes a little to drink. But then, when you see how those killers treated him you would understand. That is why he is called Mr Mandela – because he was hurt for so long and has still not bitten anyone. Yes, my little friend. We are on the radio with Madam Lisa. I hope you are not offended by being called Madam. It is my way. The way we do things here in Africa, even now. It is wrong maybe, but it is expected by many. Even though I personally only use it for those I respect and no other, it’s a habit so deep now after so many generations, it’s hard to break. I think that too much value is attached to appearances, be it the hue of your skin or any other thing. Cruelty is very much in the eye of the beholder. Some people honestly think that we are lesser than they. Not to even talk about how much less animals are. Poor things. I have seen people shocked at the chickens of Africans, scratching away in the dirt. They would never eat such a cruelly treated, in their perception, chicken. I personally would rather eat such a chicken than one which has been unable to move very much at all for all its life in a small cage. Life is just as cruel as we allow it to be. I wish it was not so. I bet you are surprised to see an African cook as a chicken activist. I am very fond of chickens. Live ones, that is.”
“You and me both. In my own story, I had to deal with lots of prejudice. You’d be amazed how many people aren’t willing to accept an electronic human. You seem very attached to your employers. What can you tell us about them?”
“You are indeed as human as human can be. You have love in your heart and that is what makes you human. That is what makes Mr Mandela human too. My employers? Yes, I suppose that they are that. They are more my family. They have been that for me more than employers, and I love them both very much. They are not racists at all. Not like those other two, read and you will see, and they are not afraid to say so. Any more. It was not always so. Suzette has been fragile for a long time. Just like Christopher was – he who was murdered. She is crazy, a little bit, but beautiful, inside and out, and Herman. Well. Herman is a lion and I would do anything for him, even though he insulted my martini.”
“They sound like very nice people. If only everyone were that way.”
“Indeed they are. The good thing is that most people are good people. Sometimes the bad people are so bad that they seem to grow in stature in our minds, even though in reality the truly bad are almost always cowards. They feel that making others smaller makes them bigger somehow. Suzette understands the problems we face in Africa today. People think that there is no more racism because there is no more apartheid. Ha! Here if you are poor and you want to eat, you will have to learn to be as inferior as is required. I suppose it is that way all over the world in one way or another.
“With Suzette and Herman, it is not about the colour of your skin, but the colour of your heart. It is simple really, when you love truly. We were all family. Christopher too before he was taken, even though he pretended to be so very stupid for so very long. The whole world should look at the colours of hearts when they seek to hate and kill. Not the colour of skins or any other apparent difference. We are all the same inside our heads and our hearts.
“Another thing. If we don’t share what is in our hearts, nobody will see our true colours. If Christopher hadn’t written so many words for his whole life, after he died, nobody would ever have known the true colour of him. In the end we saw that his colour was gold, and still today I cry with joy for having known him as well as sadness for having lost him. Our writing is important when we are gone. Even if it is just how we enjoyed our breakfast. Writing shows our colours to those who loved us when we are gone as well as when we are here. Writing keeps us alive forever.
“Yes Mr Mandela. Your colour is gold too. As were the colours of Felix and Cher. All animals have souls of gold. People could learn a lot from animals.
“You know Lisa. We think that our lives will never end, and that there will always be time to make things right. But that is not true. The only time to be right and do right is right now. We should live our lives considering love first. Who we love, what we love and believe, and know that of all things in life, love is the most important. We must find it where we can, and nurture it when we do.”
“I love animals. I have a pet rabbit named Bunny that I rescued from a butcher. I can send you a picture after the show.”
“Eish! Rabbit stew is also very much enjoyed in Zimbabwe. They are not so easy to catch. Myself, I have never tried it. I am not your usual Shona woman though – I much prefer cheese to meat. Mr Mandela will enjoy meeting your Bunny. He likes to snuggle. Does your Bunny sleep with you also? Mr Mandela sleeps on my pillow. Now I know that parrots snore too. I make sure to take many pictures of him and to write about his special occasions. Like I always say, we must leave our footprints behind for others to see. To learn, to laugh, or just to know. Even parrot footprints.”
“Oh, you’d like my boss. He writes all kinds of things, and understands those things could be around for a long time.”
“That sekuru is a very handsome man, your boss. That beard – eish! It is truly legendary. Does he throw the bones also? In Africa he would be very well known. I must read his writings soon, to see his colour, and to see what footprints he will leave.”
“He doesn’t throw the bones, but now that you mention it I’m sure he’d love to learn. Our sponsor today has been AFRICAN ME AND SATELLITE TV, by Jo Robinson. Any final thoughts, Princess?”
“Thank you so very much Lisa. It has been a great honour to be here even though I never thought I could ever be on a radio show. I believe that I will be famous in my small part of Africa today! I will send you a copy of my cookbook, Africolonial Cuisine, when Jo gets around to publishing it for me. Eish! That one! Of course she is my family too – my mother I should say, but she is a little crazy too and runs around like a mongoose with a snake that won’t die sometimes. Still, I love her, and will love her even more when I see my new book on Amazon! I made a cover for it myself – would you like to see it? I wish you very well in your future Lisa. You must come and visit us. Suzette and Herman will be pleased to have you stay, although some of the local ladies might be jealous of your impressive bosom. Eish! It is indeed a very Shona bosom! What sort of martinis do you like?”
“I don’t need to eat or drink, but I’d still like to visit eventually. Thank you for being my guest today.”
For many years Suzette has managed very well to live her life without actually taking part in it, avoiding any possibility of pain by very carefully ignoring reality. Until something happens. Something so terrible that she has no choice but to abandon her cocoon of safety.
After the brutal beating of an elderly domestic worker, Suzette takes her in, and sets off a chain of events that leads to devastating heartbreak. And an unexpected hero changes everything. Finally finding her voice, she speaks out, and her world explodes, culminating in the death of a very special man.
On her path to make amends, she discovers the story of his life, connects with the people of his past, and finds the chance to fully live her life once again if that’s what she chooses to.
Here is the purchase link again, in case you missed it.
You can find Jo at the following locations:
Jo doesn’t know I’m posting this, but she is a great advocate for indie authors. I find her blog informative and extremely helpful. She also provides author services, like cover design, proofreading, and formatting. The links for those services are in her blog.
Testimonial time here: I hired Jo to format THE EXPERIMENTAL NOTEBOOK OF C. S. BOYACK II, and found her to be fast, efficient, and affordable. She is extremely easy to work with.
She made these beautiful covers herself.
Princess’ cookbook is coming soon, I am told.