Out of politics, Lister explores the world
A globe-trotting former government minister said yesterday that Bermudians should travel off the beaten track to broaden their horizons.
Now Terry Lister, who quit politics five years ago, is to share his personal odyssey in a book called Immersed in West Africa.
He said Bermudians “need to get out and have a look at other parts of the world”, as he prepared to launch the book on Thursday.
He said: “My trips to Africa have convinced me that we should be going there, to see what these countries have to offer us, to see a different way of life and to understand the people.”
Mr Lister, who will celebrate his 65th birthday on the day of the book launch, said he decided to retire as an accountant and real estate agent, after he left politics in September 2014 and take to the road. He added: “I turned in my practising certificates when I retired, and I’m quite happy with that.
“It left me free to do what I wanted; travel eight weeks, then come home for eight weeks.”
Mr Lister, who was MP for Sandys South, said he still had some business responsibilities and properties to look after.
But he added: “I have always loved travel. When you go away to university, inside the classroom there’s a lot to learn, but a lot more outside. Your learning as you go through life can come by observation, go to a place in the world and see how life goes.”
He added: “I have relatives, including parents, who didn’t get a high school education, but who travelled, and became well versed from world experience. I always wanted to do it.”
Mr Lister, who was elected to the House of Assembly in 1998, held a variety of portfolios, including education, home affairs and energy, started his travels two months after he ended his 21-year political career, with a trip through Central America.
He said: “I went to every country except Costa Rica — I’ve been there before. I experimented with six weeks, ten weeks, and found eight-week trips were the best.”
Mr Lister focused on South America just over a year later and visited every country in the region, except Venezuela, which was racked by civil strife.
He said he loved Colombia, which had “everything you would want to see”.
Mr Lister added: “When I finished South America, in May 2017, I thought, where next? I decided to go to Africa.”
He said there was a total of 13 countries he decided to avoid, but declined to name them.
Mr Lister added: “I started in West Africa and arrived in East Africa, on Cup Match morning. My last trip was to Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya.
“Africa is fascinating — Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, has been named the cleanest city in Africa. One Saturday every month, everybody goes to a designated area and cleans up.”
Roaming West Africa also took Mr Lister through Senegal, The Gambia, Mauritania, Guinea-Conakry and Guinea-Bissau.
But he admitted he had “never been able to put my tongue around a foreign language”.
Mr Lister said: “You just do the best you can. I’ve done that for the last five years.
“You have to know certain words, and sometimes it changes. Senegal is French-speaking for business, but, if you jump in a taxi, the driver speaks Wolof.”
He added: “Most places you go, the people want to help you anyway.”
The book, which will be launched at the Bermuda National Gallery in City Hall in Hamilton at 7pm on Thursday, also includes maps and photographs.
Mr Lister said: “What I find most interesting is the fact that many people have what, by Bermuda standards, would be a hard life. But every day they smile and try to find out what can work for them.
“In Senegal, I was surprised by the number of boys who had horses with carts attached, running through the city. People adjust to the circumstances and make the most of it.”
He added: “You can’t expect to be bubbly every day. But most of my time was very good. It’s all about being willing to adapt.”
Immersed in West Africa is available through Amazon in electronic format at $9.95 and Mr Lister will have $15 print copies for sale at the launch.
He said: “I want to encourage Bermudians to see something different and experience how other people live.
“It doesn’t have to cost you a fortune. My biggest expense was the plane ticket.”
Mr Lister has shared his travels on Facebook and said he would wait to see if “more books should be forthcoming”.
His next trip to Africa will be a Mediterranean Arab and black African journey and include Morocco, Tunisia and Ethiopia.
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