Sensitivity warning: Violence towards animals, mention of witchcraft, voodoo, paranormal activities
What do paradise and homeschooling have in common? They provide the perfect backdrop for an idyllic schoolroom where Mother Nature becomes the instructor, and real-life experience is extra credit. I was a biology/ecology/nature nerd, and the thought of traveling to Africa and seeing the jungle environment first-hand, has always been a dream.
I was/am a Daktari fan. Many readers will have to Google that reference, but the jungle was key. I dreamed of living in the Serengeti and becoming the next Daktari. When my Editor-in-Chief asked me to write this interview, I have to admit that the theme song from that show played in my ears, and the drum beats filled my soul.
Lakeisha Ethans hails from the UK, but moved to Africa as a young child with her family due to her Father’s job. Her story is exciting and powerful, the thing that movies are made of.
Sue Cook (SC): Lakeisha, please tell us a bit about your childhood growing up. My EIC said that you spent time in Africa exploring the national parks and the great outdoors. Please tell us what it was like to be homeschooled in the jungle.
Lakeisha Ethans (LE): Born in the UK, my family moved to East Africa when I was about two years old. My father’s job made it difficult for us to settle, so we were always moving. Some months we’d be in Dar es Salaam, other months Arusha, Moshi, Kenya, or even Mwanza! My parents homeschooled me since it was nearly impossible to place me in a school, only to move months later. As a family, we enjoyed hiking, trekking, and camping! By the time I was nine, I had visited Mikumi, Ngorongor, and Serengeti National Parks twice! As a homeschooler I got to experience things in real life, meet different people, and make friends!
SC: What are you doing creatively these days?
LE: Now that I am settled in a modest apartment in India, I write for a living and garden for peace of mind. I maintain a vertical garden on two balconies in my apartment.
Currently I am also writing my book on my childhood experiences with witchcraft, voodoo, and rituals. Being a global nomad and spending most of my life outdoors in Africa, I’ve seen and experienced things people wouldn’t believe. It would be good to put all that on paper.
SC: Where are you living now, and what are some of the things you enjoy about your current environment?
LE: I’m currently living in India, in a two-bedroom apartment. Since it’s a small apartment complex it’s mostly peaceful, and eerie, at times. I enjoy the peace of mind, the butterflies and birds that frequent my balcony. But nothing can beat the life I used to live.
SC: What topics in the world are most important to you?
LE: Many topics are important to me because I’ve experienced some things first-hand. I’ve seen elephants die overnight from illegal tusk hunters, leopards killed for their skin, snakes butchered for their venom (dark magic), child labor and abuse… The list is truly endless.
SC: Any other information on your background you think might be interesting to know?
LE: My father passed away when I was eleven, and life took a drastic turn for me. I’m happy with the way I turned out and wouldn’t trade the lessons I’ve learned for anything!
SC: Please tell us more about the book you are writing. I am intrigued, and can’t wait to read it.
LE: I’ve started penning down personal stories about paranormal encounters, to begin with. It’s just a rough draft, but the fact is that just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist!
SC: You spoke of things that you have seen that most people wouldn’t believe, but it’s true. Could you give us a few examples?
LE: Zanzibar is an island in Tanzania and is famous for its paranormal activities. In a famous hotel, a guard told us that if we hear knocks in the middle of the night, we should ignore the knocks and not open the door, no matter what we hear from the other side of the door. This happened in the early 90s.
After 2 am, someone (or something) knocked on the door. My dad was pretty sure it was the guard playing tricks on us. We did as requested, ignored it, and tried to sleep. Sometime later, there was another knock, and this time my dad swore he heard my grandmother on the other side, asking him to open the door. My grandmother wasn’t in Zanzibar. In fact, she was home, about 110 km from where we were.
We were fast asleep, so I don’t know how it happened, but my dad opened the door and left the room. The guard tells us that morning that he found my dad walking towards a cliff, and that had he not pulled him back, my dad would’ve jumped off. My dad didn’t remember what made him open the door but remembered leaving the room to chase after my mother.
The irony is that my mother was fast asleep. What he heard wasn’t my grandmother and what he was chasing after, wasn’t my mom. We cut our trip short and left Zanzibar that afternoon.
SC: Is there anything else about your life in India that you would like to share?
LE: My life in India is great, and although I miss going on adventures or going back home, I know my roots and am grateful for how life shaped up. There are certain things I would have done differently, but instead of dwelling on those things, I understand that acceptance and forgiveness are the two keys you need to move on to greener pastures. My dream and goal is to take my kids back home so they too can bask in the love Africa has to offer!
Thank you, Lakeisha, for your time and thought-provoking answers. Your life has been so exciting, and inspiring. I hope it leads to a movement of homeschooling in the national parks at home, and abroad.
I have so many questions regarding the experiences that led you to write your upcoming book. I would love to have the opportunity to review it and eagerly await its release.
Sue Cook lives in Freeport, Illinois with her husband Randy and two dogs. Her passions include assistance dogs, rescue dogs, music, acting, theater, poetry, and Doctor Who. She’s been in both film and theater and is a regular cast member of the podcast Doctor Who’s Line is it….Anyway? Sue is an advocate for the use of Service Dogs to assist their disabled handlers to maintain their independence. Quigley’s Quest, her first children’s book, addresses how a dog becomes a Service Dog.