(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

“Looking for a Rain God” is part of a larger collection of stories, The Collector of Treasures, and Other Botswana Village Tales (1977), an account of the history and people of Serowe, a large village in southern Africa. It is told in the third person by a member of the village. The main action takes place on the lands surrounding the village, where a family resorts to ritual murder to ensure rainfall for their crops.

The story begins in the lonely yet tranquil lands outside the village of Serowe, where people journey to grow crops each year. The edenic setting suggests mythic lushness and abundance. In 1958, however, a seven-year drought begins, and the once-idyllic land grows dry and barren. Initially, the people respond with humor, but during the seventh year, after two years of starvation, many succumb to despair. Some of the men hang themselves. The only people who prosper are those “charlatans, incanters, and witch-doctors” who make their fortunes off of others’ misery and desperation.

The seventh year brings an early meager rain that promises an end to the drought, and the season for plowing and preparing the land to grow crops is officially announced at the kglota, or village center. In earnest anticipation, the family of the old man, Mokgobja, which includes a father, mother, unmarried sister, and two small girls, journey to the lands outside the village and clear the field of thornbush, create hedges...

(The entire section is 562 words.)