When I was six years old we left Belgium and crossed the ocean by boat to what was then the Democratic Republic of the Belgian Congo. It has since been Zaire for many years, and recently once again became the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

We lived in "the bush" for several years, with only dirt roads for outside access. At Nsona Mpangu we had virtually no electricity or running water, collecting water during the rainy season for use during the dry season.

As a child I learned Kikongo, the area language where we were. It was often mixed and mingled with French, the "official" and "business" language of the country.

There are cities and there is civilization in the Congo as in other parts of Africa. What I depict is village life because it is what I saw the most of. My family traveled with my father to remote villages for his work as a missionary. We lived very close to the earth and to the Congolese people.

Monkey Sunday came from an experience my family had at an open-air church when a monkey was in the rafters - eating a banana. I've changed the details, but the essence is there.

Monkey For Sale has several bits of me in it, even though the protagonist, Luzolo, is a Congolese child. Markets are small and dingy in the bush, with not much of great interest - my favorite thing to buy as a girl was the fingernail polish. And, my favorite snack was a fried manioc-dough treat called mukatis, as is Luzolo's in this story.

Sanna Stanley
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All materials copyright 2016 Sanna Stanley.