Summary: Black People and Botswana

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BookRags Encyclopedia Entry....................................................................................1 When Rain Clouds Gather....................................................................................1 Copyright Information..........................................................................................1 When Rain Clouds Gather Summary.........................................................................2 When Rain Clouds Gather....................................................................................2 by Bessie Head................................................................................................2 Events in History at the Time of the Novel.....................................................2 The Novel in Focus........................................................................................10 When Rain Clouds Gather Summary

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When Rain Clouds Gather
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BookRags Encyclopedia Entry 1
When Rain Clouds Gather Summary
When Rain Clouds Gather
by Bessie Head
Bessie Head was born in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, in 1937. Until she was 13 she was raised by a foster family in a poor section of the coloured community in the Cape Province (that is, the community for South Africans of mixed descent). She spent the next six years at St. Monica s Home, an Anglican mission school for coloured girls, where she learned through a shocking revelation from the principal that her white mother had lived and died in a mental asylum because she had sexual relations with an African stable boy. She was made to understand that she herself was being monitored for any sign of mental aberration. After her teacher training education at St. Monica s, Head taught elementary school from 1956 to 1958 in Durban, and then worked for several newspapers in Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Port Elizabeth. Her political involvement as a member of the Pan Africanist Congress led to her brief arrest after anti-pass-law demonstrations that climaxed with police shootings of African protestors in Sharpeville in 1960. She attempted suicide shortly thereafter. The traumatic impact of these experiences was evident in Head s troubled marriage, her sense of alienation in Botswana where she lived as a refugee from 1964 until she was granted Botswana citizenship in 1979 and her intermittent mental breakdowns. Almost all her writings are based on her personal experiences in these two countries. Her first novel in exile, When Rain Clouds Gather examines her decision to live in exile rather than stay and fight the apartheid system inside South Africa. Events in History at the Time of the Novel

The geopolitics of 1960s Botswana. When Rain Clouds Gather is set in the fictional village of Golema Mmidi, in a remote eastern section of Botswana. Golema Mmidi When Rain Clouds Gather Summary 2
represents Serowe, the village in which Head settled after moving to Botswana in 1964. Known then as the Bechuanaland Protectorate, Botswana, a former British colony, became independent in 1966. Geographically, the country is dominated by the Kalahari sands, and is mostly unsuitable for permanent residence. Regular rainfall may occur over a ten-year period, followed by ten years of below average rainfall, often accompanied by severe drought. Apart from the peak years of the wet cycle, rain is often highly localized, irregular in amounts, and otherwise unpredictable (Ramsay, p. 2). Consequently, only about 5 percent of the land is arable. Bessie Head uses the nation s constant desire for water as a backdrop for the hopes...
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