When rain clouds gather



compelled and propelled him to move away /escape South
Africa in favour of Botswana. He was a very brave man
who was very much prepared to articulate and express his
views and opinions about the country. His main problem
with South Africa is that he has never found any
For instance, he detested the
use of derogatory terms (insults) such as
when referring to the Blacks. To him this marked the
dehumanization and objectification of the Blacks. He
cleverly escaped, walked a very long distance and
ultimately got a lift from a truck driver, whom he told that he
belonged to the Ndebele tribal group so as he thought that
they dominated the area. When he came to the police that
he was an illegal alien, he strikingly found his picture on the
front page. He had been declared a dangerous saboteur,
of which he protested with success. Eventually he squats
in an old man’s (Dinorego) residence since his village
required educated man. The name of the village is
Golema Mmidi.
Golema Mmidi village was one of the migratory villages
prior the arrival of a White commercial farmer by the name
of Gilbert Balfour. The native subsistence farmers stayed
on the land as long as it was productive, once it has lost its
fertility people migrated to other productive lands.
Makhaya clicked with and cling on Dinorego’s back. He
was an old man very much talented in craftwork such as
making blankets from wild animals’ skin. Dinorego
narrated many stories to Makhaya about life before and
after the arrival of the Whites in the village. Dinorego had a
daughter by the name of Maria, for whom he wanted a
husband. Makhaya taught her English. Makhaya met
Gilbert, who because of finding it difficult to pronounce his
name properly settled for “Mack”, in their discussion it
emerged that Makhaya a wife, had worked as a journalist,
and as a member of underground sabotage movement.
Gilbert learns more about Golema Mmidi village from
Dinorega, he narrates all stories about the place prior his
arrival-this includes talking about plant and animal species
that were in the area, the type of soil, etc. Gilbert’s fencing
of the 250 acres he owned aroused dissatisfaction
amongst the village leadership, particularly Chief Matenge
(he had a politician friend by the name of Joas Tsepe) who
believed in communal (common) land ownership. Gilbert,
being a commercial farmer went private land control,
something strange in the area. He enslaved and exploited
the Blacks. There were gross and vast dissimilarities
between Gilbert’s approach to farming and the villagers’.
The village has too many chiefs. Chief Matenge wanted to
preserve his authority and hegemony, the presence of
Gilbert and pro-reforms brother threatened him greatly.
He had an inferiority complex problem, such that he plotted
the assassination of his brother. The chief like Gilbert
exploited the poor villagers. The village became
politicized, with the Liberation Party and the Pan-African
movement contesting votes from the villagers. Matenge
is in conflict with Makhaya whom he associate with Gilbert.

Chief Sekoto, a well-mannered man, a very diligent chief
who attended to all villagers’ cases with carefulness and
dedication, is always having cases to address and solve.
Makhaya’s case of living with Gilbert (keeping refugees in
his compound), Mma-Baloi’s case of practicing witchcraft,
and many others were treated meticulously. Amongst his
admirers is George Appleby-Smith, a shrewd judge who
stood for justice, peace and transformation in the land.
Botswana people depended very much on agriculture. Too
much of politics distract the Botswana people whose
priority was subsistence farming. The population is
divided according to class and political affiliation. The
language politicians spoke did not communicate clear and
understandable messages to the people. Chief Matenge
is embarking on a self-upliftment project, he is utilizing
props to improve his image, character and status in the
community. Makhaya suffers loneliness as a refugee,
particularly because Matenge constantly made serious
allegations such as that the refugees murder people at
night. He is insulted, but all in vain as he stood firm and
unvexed. He quarrels with Joas Tsepe and his surrogates.
Dinorego introduces Mma-Millipede to Makhaya, she was
a poor and a kind Christian who was chased even by chief’s
sons (such as Ramagodi, a drunkard and an arrogant
womanizer), something very much uncommon. Although
she never had great interest to Ramagodi she married him
and later got dumped in favour of a string of other women,
this included marrying his late brother’s wife. The villagers
disapproved of his deeds in vain. Chaos erupted,
Ramagodi’s son is exiled away after having tried to kill him,
Mma-Milllipede is unhappy, ultimately she stays with
Dinorego at Golema Mmidi. Makhaya seeks residence
permit entangles between two opposing forces, a group
led by Matenge that never liked him and Apple-Smith who
‘contentment and peace’.
‘boy’, ‘dog’ and
adored him. Luckily for him Matenge is attacked by
sickness, and Joas is sent on a six-month mission duty.
Romantic advances on the cards. Paulina and Maria
require Makhaya in their lives, with Paulina the most
serious candidate. She is clearly in love with Makhaya,
who seem to happy to be having break from politics.
Maria is eyeing Gilbert now although his culture seems to
be strange to her, for example he kept pets at home.

Gilbert is getting married to Maria, he appears not very
much overwhelmed by the occasion. Despite that that
was a big day, he still wanted to address issues pertaining
to the cultivation for self-sufficiency. Paulina’s still madly
in love with Makhaya who seem to be relaxed.

Makhaya and Paulina are married after having been set
up via getting them to work together. Makhaya is happy
and humorous to all villagers, but his wife seems to be
noticing something deep down his heart. This is because
of insecurity.
Makhaya is amazed by his close relationship with Gilbert,
a White person-something he never saw in South Africa.
They live in peace and unity. His life is free of hatred and
fear for another human being. There is equality, as a
Black man he’s nobody’s slave. He’s regained a sense of
manhood and personal dignity. The community values
cattle ownership, sometimes at the expense of education,
this worries Makhaya.
Agricultural changes, from a hand to-mouth life style to a
profit making farming method. Farming as an economic
activity blossoms in the village. Commercial farming
seems to be overtaking communal / subsistence farming.
Isaac’s fatal illness and death brought Makhaya and
Paulina together, although not married. Chief Matenge’s
reign has vanished, the place is too advanced for a
Adverse climatic changes destroy life. Droughts kill
people and their crops. Makhaya finds himself home
away from home. He fully identifies with Batswana
people. He desires to be a millionaire via feeding the
Batswana people. He sees himself as having a
responsibility of determining his destiny. He believes that
Blacks can take control of their lives.
Matenge’s life and reign come to an end. He takes his
own life,(commits suicide) a sign of being mentally weak
and challenged. This marks complete end of autocracy or
dictatorship. He is given a cold shoulder by all villagers,
including Joas Tsepe. Gilbert’s co-operatives have
unified the villagers in farming and economic production.
Paulina is a leader of women in the village. Makhaya is
not prepared to escape from the Batswana people, that
would be an escape from freedom and all associated
responsibilities. MAKHAYAhas a home now, the home is
Botswana’s Golema Mmidi village. In IsiZulu MaKHAYa
has i ‘found’ himself, he belongs somewhere and is
happy to be treated as a human being. He has dignity,
peace and freedom. He can now sit, relax and enjoy life
like everyone else. He has identified with the villagers, his
self-concept and image are changing for the better. He
has a sense of identity and belongingness, has a positive
outlook on life. From hostile SA village to a warm
Botswana one.Makhaya belongs here now!
Use this summary as a broad and superficial overview of
the story.
Interrogate and engage the text further. Read between
and along the line to unpack the text and draw sound
(justifiable) conclusions about the characters and
associated events.
This summary should be used as secondary support
When ‘the rain clouds gather’, there will always be an
illusion of freedom and batter life ahead. There is light of at
the end of the tunnel, change and social transformation
are possible. Today South Africa is free and/or better
because of people who risked their lives and fought
against the social ills with great determination, patience,
vigour, etc. ultimately cloud hanging over South Africa got
cleared. Literature (novels and other forms of writing) was
also used quite immensely to raise consciousness, to
mobilize, to educate, to influence, etc South Africans.
Literature was (is) a tool for advancing social
transformation agenda.
is such a genre, it is a deeply political and
polemical piece of writing. To enjoy it you must know
where you come from.
“When the rain Clouds
This lesson focuses on the historical background to
the story and a synopsis of all the chapters. Summary
of chapters gives the story line i.e. main issues in each
chapter. Do not disregard the book and depend on
this summary, they could be some omissions.
Furthermore you are expected to interrogate the text
and draw your own personal conclusions about what
the writer has presented. Lastly apply the different
literary techniques or look at how Bessie Head has
utilized the in this moving and free flowing story. A
story every learner is bound to ENJOY!
“self”and freedom
‘self’, identity and personal freedom.

She is a South African writer of great stature who was
born in KZN’s Pietermaritzburg in the late 30s. She
was a coloured, illegitimate and unwanted child who
confronted emotional torture and bruises and also
psychological violence right from the beginning of her
life. Her mother was White, and came from an affluent
and luxurious background, who according to the laws
of the time contravened the norm by involving herself in
a romantic relationship with a black poor man. Due to
that, she became an outcast in the family, her
pregnancy (that produced Bessie Head) became a
disgrace to family. In the then Apartheid South Africa
union between Whites and Blacks was a social taboo, it
was detestable according to the laws of the time.
Her writings uncovered the trauma and torture of being
an unwanted child, a child lacking identity and
belongingness. She talks about the search for a
, she wants freedom from all the
oppressive and hostile social structures that
marginalized and disadvantaged the poor Blacks in
South Africa. In her works she presents issues such
social marginalization, social exclusion and social
disadvantage. She challenges social systems that
perpetuated processes such social stratification and
differentiation. The structures that she challenges are
products of Apartheid policies, policies that entrenched
hostility amongst different racial and ethnic groups in
South Africa. The policies divided the population of the
country according to race and language.
In she highlights her
different life experiences that led to her move to another
country, Botswana. The decision to move across the
South African boarders is a result of the search for the
Her move
away from South Africa is symbolic in the sense that it
also refers to the move away from autocracy to
democracy and human freedom. The different
characters in the story come from different social
backgrounds, a true reflection of South Africa’s rainbow
nation / diversified / multiracial / multicultural /
multilingual nation. Their different experiences
represent the different social settings and associated
events as they were manufactured by Apartheid.
People such as Makhaya left the country for Golema
Mmidi because of involvement in the so-called terrorist
activities. Makhaya is searching for life that is not
fragmented and also calmness. Makhaya does not
enjoy life and all associated privileges in South Africa,
consequently he escapes to Botswana. He foresees
freedom and peace of mind in that country. SA is
supposed to be Makhaya’s home (ikhaya), but it is
homely at all! He wonders about because being illtreated
and disadvantaged in his place of birth, place
that is supposed to be good to him. The literary device
that Bessie has used here is known a naming,
Makhaya has no proper (he homeless yet is in a
country of birth).
was written at a
particular time in South African history, although
fictitious it remains a portrayal of the writer’s personal
experiences. When clouds gather there is an illusion
of freedom and better. The gathering of clouds allows
one to see beyond the present circumstances and
associated hostilities. It marks hope and an end of
current happenings and experiences.
Makhaya, a young man stands fearfully in a hut just
beside the border fence, the boarder between South
Africa and Botswana. He wants to illegally immigrate
to Botswana in search for better political life.
He is fears being caught by the police whose
keeps him on his toes. Ikhaya come from IsiZulu,
and it means home. This is ironical because Makhaya
does not have home in the true sense of the word
home. So, the name Makhaya is wrong and irrelevant
to this young man. He never liked tribalism and all
associated illnesses. It is such social illnesses that
“When Rain Clouds Gather”
“When Rain Clouds Gather”
Ziphathele High

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