Why did Chief Matenge commit suicide in When Rain Clouds Gather?

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When Rain Clouds Gather by Bessie Head depicts the clash of cultures and values in rural Botswana as the fledgling nation develops its own identity after decades of colonialism. The novel was published in 1968, two years after Botswana achieved independence in 1966. The novel can be read allegorically, where the tension between Chief Matenge and Makhaya, the protagonist of the story, stands in for broader societal tensions.

Chief Matenge represents factions who want to maintain a traditionally-gendered and extremely-limited monopoly on power. Makhaya, on the other hand, represents the progressive possibilities that arise when all manner of people come together. Makhaya (a non-Botswanan) joins with Gilbert Balfour (a European) to create a farming collective that brings together all manner of "commoners" to create a version of the agricultural system that...

(The entire section contains 429 words.)

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