Maru Questions and Answers
by Bessie Amelia Emery

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What is the setting of Maru by Bessie Amelia Emery?

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Maru is set in the "remote, inland village" of Dilepe in Botswana. The village is big enough to have a school, a post office, a shop with a grocers, a butcher, a bakery, and a line of offices which form the Dilepe Tribal Administration building.

The villagers speak a Bantu language, a language group in southern Africa, called Setwana and include some of the country's richest and most powerful chiefs. At the beginning of the book, Dikeledi tells Margaret that it could be a problem that she is a Masarwa because many of the chiefs have taken people from Masarwa, who they see as lowly bushmen, as slaves.

On page 31, Margaret gives the following description of the village.

Below her the village of Dilepe spread out and swept towards the horizon. It was a network of pathways and dusty roads weaving in and out between a tortured lay-out of mud huts ... A thousand wisps of blue smoke arose silently into the air as a thousand women prepared the evening meal beside their outdoor fires.

Margaret is appointed to teach at a school in the village called Leseding school. At first, people are worried that a Masarwa is teaching their children but she soon wins them over. Not least because she has obtained a teaching certificate in England. Her mother had died giving birth to her and she was adopted by an England missionary who took her back to her home country.

Margaret proves popular with the men of the village. Maru, Dikeledi’s brother, and Moleka all fall in love with her, but at the end of the book, she marries the tribal chief, Maru.

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