Applying for Australian citizenship causes Sheela to recall her African past, and remember many emotional moments from her life so far. She recalls her childhood, raised in Tanzania as part of a proud and honourable family, and learning the ways and traditions of her tribe; the Wachagga people. Her life as the daughter of the owner of a successful market stall is marked with the burden of carrying on the successes of her mother while also forging her own path in life.
Her success as an artist compels both Australia and Tanzania to claim Sheela as their own. With a new family living in Australia and with Tanzania not allowing dual citizenship, returning to her birth-land would be impossible. Even if she wanted to return, her successful business would be hard to walk away from. Australia had given her so much – success, a home, a family
– and now all they wanted in return was citizenship. Sheela was torn.
We follow different stages of Sheela’s life, from childhood mistakes to important career decisions, from love to loss. Though the events of her life are often tinged with profound sadness, her desire to nd love, start a family, and attain her career goals are a driving force that no tragedy can derail. In times of need, Sheela recalls inspirational words and stories of her ancestors, and we learn about which events of the past helped to strengthen her resolve.
Sheela remembers her late mother, Maija, and the strength she showed as a role model even in the face of adversity and betrayal. With a largely absent husband, Maija has to support Sheela and the rest of the family. Juggling life as a single mother, cantankerous in- laws, and a edging business, Maija’s sheer grit and determination to not let her children down is as admirable as it is remarkable.
Under the Red JacarandaTM follows different generations of Sheela’s family living in the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro and the everyday trials and tribulations of Tanzanian life, from royalty to common people living off the land. Funny, tragic, and uplifting, this is a story about women nding their place in the world and dealing with all that life can throw at them.