Survival and rebirth resonate in When Rain Clouds Gather. The protagonist, Makhaya Maseko, nervously waits in an elderly man’s hut in Barolong, South Africa, before daring to cross into independent Botswana. Makhaya burns a note linking him to a bombing plan and reveals he dislikes his tribe and has been imprisoned. Police sirens wail as they pass in the darkness before he climbs barbed wire fences to freedom. Moving blindly in Botswana, Makhaya hears melodious bells that replace the harsh sound of sirens.
Makhaya spends the night with an older woman and a girl, who tell him the bells are worn by the cattle, which move freely. After sunrise, a truck driver offers Makhaya a ride to a crossroads where Makhaya hopes to register as a refugee. At the police station, the policeman knows Makhaya’s name, showing him a newspaper article identifying him as a saboteur. Makhaya denies that charge, and the officer says he realizes that Makhaya only thinks about violence but does not pursue it.
Makhaya sees an elderly man, Dinorego, outside the post office and tells him that he desires contentment. Dinorego, an outsider originally from northern Botswana, contemplates Makhaya’s fortitude for living in rural Botswana, commenting that God has blessed his village, which is free of crime and violence and rich with generosity and tolerance compared to urban South Africa. Dinorego invites Makhaya to his and his daughter Maria’s home in Golema Mmidi. Here, Makhaya encounters a community of women because most of the male villagers are at cattle posts tending their livestock. Dinorego introduces Makhaya to an Englishman, Gilbert Balfour, who aids the natives by providing scientific and cooperative agricultural methods to ease impoverishment. The village’s punitive subchief, Matenge, is aware of...
(The entire section is 743 words.)