Please help me extend a warm welcome to Terry Lister.
Welcome to the PBS Blog!
What is your name and where are you from?
My formal title is The Honorable Terry Lister, FCA, MBA, JP. While l had to work very hard to be given these titles, today l am retired. And in retirement, l have more or less retired my titles. I live in a much more relaxed manner than that under which l was burdened when l was working.
Nice. And where are you from?
I am from the beautiful island of Bermuda. We, Bermudians, believe that everyone has heard of us and thus knows where our island is but l know that both of these beliefs are false. We are an extremely small island located in the Atlantic some 700 miles from North Carolina. I have lived in Bermuda all my life except for ten years when l studied and worked in Ontario, Canada. The title The Honorable is due to my serving as a member of the Bermuda legislature for 21 years including ten years as a Minister of Government. I retired in 2014 and immediately took on my most enjoyable task of my life, that of being a slow solo traveler.
What was your childhood dream?
What I do today was always a dream for me but before I could get to it life stood in the middle. I had to get educated and I had to have a job, preferably one that paid lots of money. Growing up black in Bermuda meant that any black male who did not seek a career in the trades would have three choices: doctor, lawyer or teacher. Not wanting to do any of these, I was stumped until one day when asked for the 100th time I responded by saying I wanted to be an accountant. The questioner was floored, never had a little black boy said he wanted to be an accountant. Seeing the reaction this answer produced, I said it every time from about 12 on. It didn’t matter that I had no idea what an accountant did, I just knew it had to be special by the reaction of my questioners.
By the time I needed to make an informed response and I found out what an accountant did, I was so on it and that is what I became. By the age of 27 I was a partner in the Bermuda firm of Deloitte, becoming the first black person to be a partner in a then Big 8 Bermuda audit firm. So I made my dream come true and I never regretted this. The FCA behind my name is a special recognition in my profession given to a small number of the members due to distinguished service to the profession and the community.
Wow. What an amazing and inspiring story.
What would be the most amazing adventure to go on or that you’ve been on?
Given that I am a full time traveler, I have been on many amazing adventures. However, if required to name one I would say it would be trekking Mountain Gorillas in Uganda.
Your stories get better and better! Go on, tell us more.
As we were starting to leave the Gorillas and head out, one quickly came down a tree and landed very close to me. The guides tried to act calm but I could see some degree of fear. However, I acted as calmly as I could and waited for the gorilla to wander off. Got some great shots! While I do enjoy writing, travel is my first passion and many of the experiences I have had were simply mind blowing.
Wow. I bet. So, what state or country do you never want to go back to?
To date l have been to 95 countries…
Just about every country has something about it that makes me wish I could go back. However, the one place I will not go back to is Tunisia. This northern African country was recently in the news about their behavior towards black Africans. I was there for 12 days in 2019. I was not treated with any warmth most of the time, often I had to fuss with taxi drivers to get them to take me where I wanted to go and, worst yet, I had an incident with the police who detained me for several hours for the crime of walking along a country road going to see a point of interest. There was a nasty undercurrent as I moved through various parts of the country and for that reason I would not return.
I’m so sorry you had to go through that craziness. Thanks for the heads up!
Let’s get into your publishing journey. When did you publish your first book?
I published my first book, Immersed in West Africa, in August 2019 just two months before my bad experience in Tunisia. My wife had organized a launch party which went really well and the book should have been off to a great start. However, we had selected a launch date and refused to move from it. The result was the publisher rushed the book and it was not a good product. Some of the attendees who bought books that night have chosen to not buy any books since which l find to be such a disappointment. When l realized the extent of the problem we sat down and fixed the flaws and put out another copy which has sold well. Beyond that this book has won 12 awards. Today, l am very proud of my first book, Immersed in West Africa.
And proud you should be. It is a wonderful and informative read. I’m glad you didn’t give up and re-released it.
What takes up too much of your time?
The most time consuming part of my writing is the marketing of the books. I am not a known author so l have to work every day to keep my books in front of people. It is both very time consuming and very challenging. Naturally, my genre is Travel and l write about my travels. So l cannot say, “enough of this, I am going to be a sci-fi writer.” Therefore I use up many hours doing things to get my books in front of potential readers.
Who is your favorite historical figure?
When l started high school way back in the dark ages, as my children would say, my class was taught Latin. Little did we learn but some of us took to the stories especially the Punic Wars and General Hannibal. He became and remains my favorite historical figure. When l went to Tunisia I went to see the remains of his city, Carthage. Consistent with the removal or destruction of many other creations of Black Africans prior to colonization, there was little to see while throughout Tunisia there are many Roman sites from the same and slightly later time period.
So, is the Honorable Terry Lister a political man?
Am I political? Does a horse drink water!
Yes, l served 21 years in the legislature of my country from 39 to 60. These were the peak years of my work life so it is impossible to not be political. However, I see my role today as observer and scribe. I spend very little time in political discussions or arguments as I was expected to do for the previous 21 years. My experience does make me well prepared to observe and to ask questions as l travel along.
Thank you, Terry Lister, for spending this time with us.We enjoyed you!
Traveler and author Terry Lister enjoys both. Prior to this, he worked as a realtor, a minister in the Bermudan government, and a partner in the accounting firm Deloitte. However, he had always desired to travel, so in 2014, at the age of 60, he decided to retire and started traveling alone.
Lister had visited 48 nations when he retired, but since then, he has visited 50, staying in each for a week to six weeks. It’s been a journey! His first book, Immersed in West Africa, chronicled eight weeks of action-packed travel across five different West African nations. He has now traveled to 18 more countries in Africa and authored four more books.
While he is off the road, Mr. Lister enjoys unwinding with a good book, which must be historical or biographical. Although Terry would like to read more books in different genres, there are enough excellent novels in his field to keep him reading. He always has a few travel books in progress in anticipation of his upcoming trip.
Before leaving, Terry says he undertakes much research to identify activities that visitors are not always aware of. There is little time to be bored for this wanderer. He enjoys playing football and cricket in his spare time-cricket and football being his games. So little time to be bored!