The Preacher's Daughter

Author: Mubanga Kalimamukwento

Kabwe, Zambia. Sali is a working mother of three on trial for the murder of her husband, Kasunga. She allegedly shot him after a heated fight in their bedroom. Through a distracted legal aid lawyer, Sali pleads not guilty.

14 years earlier, Sali is a proud university graduate and a qualified high school teacher. Baba is the founder and pastor of God’s Revelations Church and Mama is a devout and submissive wife. Chafing against the endless pressure to find a husband and adamant that she will not resemble her parents, Sali has an affair with a wealthy, married cardiologist known as Doc. But on the day she discovers she is pregnant with his child, Doc dies of a heart attack. Distraught at Doc’s untimely death and scared for the future, Sali accepts Kasunga’s marriage proposal to avoid the shame of being an unwed mother. Although she does not initially love him and they have nothing in common – Kasunga is a police officer with little formal education –, he provides the protection she seeks. He accepts her unborn baby, believing he cannot have children of his own.

As dictated by her lengthy traditional pre-marital training, over the years Sali navigates her husband’s infidelities and alcohol-filled nights, their money troubles, her postnatal depression and an attempted abortion in silence. After all, it is the woman’s responsibility to keep the marriage intact. Until the day her marriage finally fails to endure or ‘shipikisha’ – considered the ultimate dereliction of wifely duty in Zambia. Until the day she speaks her mind and Kasunga puts a gun in her face.

The trial is followed by the national press. The prosecution calls on various ‘witnesses’: the maid, Kasunga’s mother and even Ntashé, their 15-year-old daughter, is persuaded to testify. They also have another weapon up their sleeve: Sali’s diary. This book is where Sali went to hide, where she went to recover when feelings overtook the moment. Now her words are publicly dissected and judgements made about her character by the prosecution, the judge and the eager gallery.

As Sali awaits her fate, held in appalling conditions in Chikwapu Prison where inmate rape and the threat of HIV infection are rife, she hopes against hope. Before the verdict is announced, memories and words, regrets and accusations fill the courtroom, time crashes into itself, slowing to a near halt while racing ahead. Sali calls no witnesses because no one else was there when it happened. Even her diary doesn’t contain the whole story. Only she and Kasunga will ever know the truth. So why must she alone carry the blame?

Request more information

Other Books