Bessie head takes us through the experiences of individuals in an African village. The foreign influence is still green and their culture is at risk of contamination by western values and practices. However, the generation gap comes in the way of consensus regarding the model lifestyle. As a result, Makhaya find himself a stranger in his own mother land and seeks to find a place on earth where equality and prosperity characterize the
Makhaya is a captive of his past. His home village is plagued by traditions that set the gap between men and women at levels that infuriate him. His own homestead is an example of the dominating status held by men. Having worked in a newspaper printing company, his frustrations with the socio-economic conditions of his people drive him to develop radical ideologies. The poor working conditions at the printing plant offer little consolation to his disgust with the message contained in the dailies he helps produce.
As a result, the preoccupation with the search for liberating his people contributes to his arrest and incarceration. His idea of liberation is borne out of hatred and marked with an ill-conjured plan to blow up the oppressors to oblivion. Before conviction, Makhaya was overly aware of the blatant inequalities in life. His idea of equality was shunned by society. Despite the social stigma appended to equality between genders, he hoped that one day, civilization would come to his rescue.
As a champion to his cause, he asserts himself as an ‘older sibling’ to his sisters instead of the customary title that imposed a great deal of pomp and class as posited by Head (p10). However, his home village provided less of a haven for his desires. In the midst of tears from his nuclear family, Makhaya sets out immediately after escaping from prison. His journey takes him to a foreign land where he gains the status of a refugee. The trials and tribulations on the way take a huge toll on his wit and he ends up in the colony of a different tribe (Head, 2). Despite the ethnic differences, his proficiency in the language of the hosts plays a major role in the hospitality he is accorded.
Under the care of his hosts, Makhaya realizes that the conditions he is running away from were rife among them. his reputation precedes him at the customs department where he had stopped to acquire travel papers. As observed, after resting, he is able to reflect his apt and stands out from his peers (Head, 14). As a result, an old man takes keen interest in him for paternal reasons. Contrary to his homeland where he was viewed as an outcast and misfit, his host views him as the solution to his quest for a son-in-law.
The village to which he was headed turned out to be a home to people who had escaped from their miserable and paltry life in their homeland. In the new habitat, the position held by women was pivotal in survival of the community. As the tillers of land in community fully depended on crop produce, the community sanctified the role played by the womenfolk. Over the past, the villagers have suffered from poor leadership and lack of knowledge about the sole economic activity. Dinorego views Makhaya as a savior owing to his sharpness and level of education.
In the company of Dinorego, Makhaya takes up farm-extension as an occupation. His proficiency in Tswana coupled with his apt propels him to reverence among the villagers. Under the mentorship of Gilbert, he learns modern farming techniques. He subsequently teaches such skill to the natives who appreciate the knowledge by improving their farming practices. Through the contribution of Makhaya, Gilbert is able to propagate his long-standing wish of liberating the farmers from exploitation by unscrupulous intermediaries and brokers. Similarly, the farmers also gain insight on how to improve the quality and quantity of the farm output. Through zero grazing and construction of paddocks, the farmers are able to manage fodder more efficiently through out the year.
During his stay at the village, Makhaya contributed to the change experienced since most men took up tilling as an occupation. Prior to his arrival, the sole preoccupation of the men was herding as postulated by Head (p 20). Similarly, he helped the villagers embrace climate-sensitive crops. From his contribution, the villagers were able to achieve improved crop production in addition to diversifying their produce. The symbiotic relationship between crop farming and cattle rearing was realized since most of the fodder came from the remains of the food crops.
As postulated by Head (p80), his success makes him not only the talk of the village but also a target for the mischievous village chief who views him as a threat to his womanizing escapades. However as soon as the farming efforts start to materialize, Makhaya finds himself an unwanted man due to his refugee status. In spite of endorsement by the chief, some of the villagers are unimpressed by the efforts of the two foreigners. However, his persistence wins him a go-ahead to stay. The presumptions held by the villagers about the intentions of foreigners dissolve after witnessing the change in their living standards. Since the villagers sanction his stay, Makhaya sets his sight to spearheading reforms and liberating the villagers from the oppressive rule. As a result, he finds himself in collision course with the representatives of the government (Head, 100). However, Makhaya is determine not to run any more and chooses to stay on and fight. His unfruitful search for an abode with desirable characteristics contributes to his decision to stay and create the model society he so much desirers.