Interview with author Judy Witt


Author Judy Witt joins me today
to talk about her creative non-fiction book, Shades of Africa - Kwasuka Sukela (A long time ago in a land where
black was not white)
Judy Witt was born in Natal South Africa on January 1944. Raised by Zulu
women and then Xhosa women when the family moved to Port Elizabeth in the
Eastern Cape. The family later moved to Southern Rhodesia and Northern Rhodesia
during the years that those countries were fighting for freedom and
Caught up in
the violence and terror that evolved and the Congo Revolution spillover, they
returned to South Africa the day before Zambia’s independence.
Judy now
lives in Sydney Australia with her husband, four married children, nine
grandchildren and one great grandchild.
Please tell us about your current
The story is
told mainly through a child’s eyes and as she grows up into a young woman. Life
growing up in Africa during the apartheid years and through the violent
disruption in the Rhodesia’s as that country struggled for freedom and
communism. The terrible impact that the Belgium Congo Revolution had over
blacks and whites as it erupted and spilt over the borders into Northern
Rhodesia, a country already in revolt with the cry of Kwacha the new dawn of
The fight for
black power and freedom all over Africa, and how this way of life impacted on
all families white & black. Domestic violence and abuse of women and children
is a normal way of life for many families of all races living under
What inspired you to write this book?
I needed to
share my life growing up in Africa. To tell it the way it was, an uncomfortable
truth. To lift the veil.
What exciting story are you working on
Place of Crying: Inkaba Yakho Iphi? -
Where Is Your Navel?
Three stories
told in parallel. The Xhosa and the Khoikhoi tribes, the British Soldiers and
the Settlers. And the Burghers and the Boers.
‘Although Khokhoi,
her mother, had named her Coti after the wife of Cagn the Supreme God of the
San people. Her skin shone like gold, the skin of The San.
He had been
watching as she bathed in the lagoon, blinded by her sleek beauty as she
stepped out. The fading sunlight on the water drops covered her golden skin
like jewels. Coti gasped when she saw him.
He was
Tshane, great, great-grandson of a Xhosa chief and named after one of the first
Rharhabe Xhosa Kings, or Paramount (Supreme) Chiefs. His mother was from the
Xhosa Gcaleka clan. Tshane represented the amaXhosa, the fierce people of
Xhosa. He was magnificent as he stood still and tall, a warrior, black as ebony
his toned muscles rippled. He was nervous. She was not afraid of him.
She prayed
now to the wise and powerful Tsui-Goab the Khoi Supreme God to protect her from
Guanab the cunning God of Evil. Her grandmother had warned that this was an
evil love, brought about by the trickster God Haitsa-Aibib. Haitsa-Aibib could
change his form at will. Was he the Fish Eagle that had thrown the cloud over
Lt. Ian
Bentley sat his horse on a hill overlooking the coastal foothills of the
Amatola Mountains. From his position, he had a good view of the sea and the
Xhosa village below him. It was baking hot under the African sun, and he looked
forward to the evening cool. He sweated in his thick red tunic, made for cooler
climates, and his horse fidgeted from the flies. Taking his eyeglass from his
tunic, he focused on the village below.’
When did you first consider yourself a
I first
started to write my memoirs for my children about 5 years ago. I was encouraged
to publish the story.
Do you write full-time? If so, what's
your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find
time to write?
I dedicate a
few hours every day to writing as I am retired. Between writing, and my other
love of painting I also help with after school care of my youngest grandchild
aged 8 years.
As a child, what did you want to be when
you grew up?
Growing up in
Africa during racial wars, I was hoping to grow up, happy to survive.
Anything additional you want to share
with the readers?
The fight in
Africa is on-going sometimes there is no end in sight only death. Women and
children are suppressed, killed for their love of life and learning. We must
support their fight for civil rights and stop the killing of innocent people of
all races. Everyone should be allowed to pray when, with, how, where and to
whom they believe.
This book
should appeal to anyone interested in knowing how it was living a life of
uncertainty in Africa. Constant friction and the history of Africa during those
times in the waning days of the British Empire. Hopefully society today will
accept that these events did take place and learn from them. Nobody should be
able to suppress a nation or an individual. My message is to promote awareness.
Thank you for joining me today, Judy.

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