The summary of When the rain gathers
This novel was written by Bessie Head, a mixed race South African exiled citizen now living in Botswana as one of the most influential black writers from what is now known as the civilised Botswana. When the clouds gather is said to be dictating her life, her autobiography. She too left South Africa after the tire of the Apartheid making the life of non-White society extremely in despair. Upon arriving in Botswana, she wanted to express her most painful experience with the use of writing.
A young man by the name, Makhaya has just been released from South African prison after displaying such criticism of the Apartheid. (ENG 1501/501: 104,105). He runs away one day and skips quickly the border between Botswana and South Africa. It is rather an infuriating experience for him because it brings him much pain. But in the end when he arrives in Botswana he is met by rather friendly circumstance of which heals him. In the village of Gomela Mmidi he is welcomed by a white name, Gilbert Balfouer of which together they help preserve and manage the circumstance of the village around. The statement made by Zeela according to the description of things taking place in Gomela Mmidi is rather one which I should agree with.
As soon Makhaya makes his presence in the small village of Gomel Mmidi is when noticeable increase in the poverty and famine crippling the community starts to change the circumstances of the community. He is a highly educated man surrounded by poor skilled people of which he and Gilbert Balfouer, a humble and helpful white who had come from Britain, Europe, combine to be able to his skills in creating programmes of which help the community. This is where the setting of the story continuously takes place and which Makhaya finds the sense of belonging and falling in love.
But it was not always easy. In the novel, there is an introduction of Chief Mantege of who is described as the villain and the evil power of the story. He is the type of characters in the story of which tries to sabotage the plans of Makhaya (whom is the heroic in the story) who tries to save the community and making them interdependent. Chief Mantege tries many times to threaten Makhaya and drive him out of the village back towards his country. He sees Makhaya as threat, because like him he has the intelligence of a black educated black man, unlike him he has the quality of loving people and wanting to help him. Chief Mantege thinks it is best he used his money and his possessions and appearance to hurl people into thinking that he could help him when in fact he gains their money.
I come to realise that before Makhaya arrived into the village it was ruled by power. The power given to those who were already skilled and to haughty to share their skills with other individuals caused the breakdown of the society. The most affected were woman of the village. They were made to believe that they had to only use their skills in raising their families and being child bearers. Makhaya’s zealous, humble and helpful nature personality despite his troubled past moves the woman of which Pauline Sabeso to love him. He is both powerfully moving, and easily sympathises with the battling society because he too had a crippling lifestyle.
One of the first things that Gilbert and Makhaya do to help the society is able to reinforce the skills of co-operative programmes to be able to help the community to blossom. Gilbert tells Makhaya to enlist the help of one responsible woman who would persuade the other house ridden woman to learn from farming skills. (ENG1501/501: 111,112) These ideas about progress bring Paulina and Makhaya together.
Paulina is described as a woman whom is first introduced as grieving from the sudden suicide of her loving husband after being falsely accused of theft in his company. (ENG1510/510:113,114). That forces Isaac, her son, to live with the cattle’s in the cattle ranch of which due to the drought and famine dies. They later discover his skeletons dangling in the cattle ranches. But Paulina’s personality is described as one for diligence and fierce determination for independence of which she uses for helping the woman of the society start a living using their new skills. Instead of retreating back into his depressed state, Makhaya uses this opportunity to declare his love for Paulina and this heals the both of them. This further make me agree with Zeela’s statement on the fact changes start taking place in Gomela Mmidi village. Of course we have observed that these are good changes.
Other characters such as Old Dinorogo serve as the communities comforting souls of which further enhance the ideas of progress in the village. Together Mma Millipede and she serve as caring, further resilient and optimistic towards the fellows Glibert and Makhaya’s ideas for making the village a much better place. She even arranges a wedding for Gilbert and Old Dinorogo’s daughter, Maria. (ENG1501/501: 116,117) We learn of their tender loving and merciful caring for Makhaya and Gilbert in making their lives in a secluded completely foreign place, much welcome and comfortable.
The Paramount Chief and Chief Mantege’s brother, Chief Sekoto is not like him because he is a man of having a good taste for life and of great wisdom when Ma Baloi’s case is bought towards him. In that case he welcomes the positive changes for the community despite his flaws.
Chief Mantege’s committing suicide no doubt shocked him but it no doubt made the people of the Golema Mmidi more keen on serving the others for progress. We come to know that Mantege’s suicide was a result of insecurities that would have not let the community to progress. So in turn this was a blessing.
All of these characters serve and bring positive changes towards the community, especially with the tobacco farming and other co- operative programmes that progress the country. The title of the novel contrasts the changes in the village. In that we come to identify that even when it is dark we can find hope somewhere like Makhaya.