When Rain Clouds Gather, by Bessie Head Essay

When Rain Clouds Gather, by Bessie Head Essay

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In the novel When Rain Clouds Gather, by Bessie Head, the protagonist, Makhaya, deals with suffering, trauma and eventual healing, particularly when he arrives in Golema Mmidi. At the same time, the novel deals with problems of tribalism, greed and hate in a postcolonial state. Throughout the novel, Makhaya attempts to resolve these struggles and create a new future for himself.

We learn from the novel that Makhaya is struggling with several very large struggles. Makhaya wants to live in a country that is free from all forms of apartheid, racial domination and conflict between the rich and poor and the black and white. Makhaya spent his whole life under the apartheid system in South Africa, where offensive terms such as ‘boy’, ‘dog’ and ‘kaffir’ are used when referring to the black people, and attempts to escape this system by crossing into Botswana. “… He simply wanted a country to love and chose the first thing at hand…” (Head, When Rain Clouds Gather, p. 17). He moves into the village of Golema Mmidi which is a unique refuge for Botswana and South African people who are trying to escape the misfortunes of their lives. Makhaya left South Africa for many reasons, one being that if he lived in a free country he thought that “maybe some of the evils in his life will correct themselves” (Head, When Rain Clouds Gather, p. 10). In this journey, Makhaya realises his main aspiration is that of a simple life. “ ... One road might lead to fame and importance, and another might lead to peace of mind. It’s the road of peace of mind that that I’m seeking” (Head, When Rain Clouds Gather, p. 20).

In Golema Mmidi, a place where social norms and values are well respected, Makhaya joins a group of refugees and exiles and becomes involved in...


... middle of paper ...


...man society was sane and normal,” and that he simply had “to come to terms with his society” because it was all he had (Head, When Rain Clouds Gather, p. 164).

We learn that the process of healing and overcoming his struggles encompasses Makhaya working through his struggles by learning to trust and believe in the friends he makes and people he meets in Golema Mmidi. While all of Makhaya’s inner struggles are not fully resolved in the novel, he does comes to terms with who he is and learns to open up to the people around him. It is living within a community, learning to accept that certain things cannot be changed, and living simply that provides a ‘peace of mind’ for Makhaya. While his thoughts may not become quiet, they are soothed by his focus and determination, his involvement in the agricultural programme, his friendships and his relationship with Paulina.

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