Golema Mmidi is a small village in Botswana. It has about 400 residents and consists of people who “fled there to escape the tragedies of life.” It is always undergoing changes. Hence, it is known as an “experimental village.” Throughout the novel we are able to see the changes that occur in the village. These changes are not only subjected to the infrastructure of the village but also within the people in it. For instance we come to see the changes in the thinking patterns of the residents. Women are being educated, they are being seen and treated as equals towards the ending of the novel. We also come to see of the changes in Matenge’s suicide. Below we will come to see how some of the points mentioned above as well as others have played a part in the changes of Golem Mmidi. We are first introduced to Makhaya a young man who has fled from jail and who has crossed over the border from South Africa to get into Botswana. Makhaya ends up going to the police in Botswana to request permission to stay in their land. After answering numerous questions and proving himself to be quite an intelligent man the police officer grants Makhaya permission. However, the chief of Golema Mmidi, Matenge is not too thrilled by this. He is against Makhaya’s arrival as he has paired up with a man named Gilbert and they both have the same vision.
The vision of making Golema Mmidi a better place. They both are trying to change the way the residents’ plant and breed. Matenge is completely against changes, and therefore he instantly dislikes Makhaya. He even tries to banish him from the village. He is afraid that his position might be at risk due to this stranger who has entered his village. As a ruler he is not one for the poor and seeing that Makhaya stands for everything he does not infuriates him even more. His disregard for the lower citizens is seen in the manner in which he dismisses Dinorego greeting, “with a slight gesture of the head, which contained in it an inheritance of centuries of contempt for the ordinary man.” Makhaya and Gilbert both agree that it is through proper farming that poverty will be removed from this village. However, they also believe that it has to be done with the help of the woman. Hence, they believe in educating the woman in tobacco planting. These two men believe that woman play a crucial role in the development of a village and that they two would come perhaps come up with brilliant ideas which would assist in the planting and breeding of crops and cattle. This is suggested in the following lines from the novel in which gilbert says, “ erhaps all change in the long run would depend upon the women of the country and perhaps they too could provide a number of solutions to problems he had not yet thought of.” This is the reason Gilbert wants Makaya to teach the woman about farming.
He uses Makaya as a barrier breakage of language between him and the woman.When it comes time to teach the woman about farming we are introduced to a woman named Paulina who is the main lady who helps Makhaya in teaching the women about farming. She Is introduced to us as being a very strong woman, who is a single mother of two. She is strong and courageous in the fact that despite her husbands’ suicide she is still able to hold herself together and preserver at life. Later on in the novel she has to also deal with the death of her son. But despite thus she still lives up to the challenge of mobilizing the women in her village. We see gender equality here as the women who were interested in the tobacco growing had to, “first get permission from their husbands.” Also we see that the ladies were not accustomed to being treated or spoken to as equals.
In the ending of the novel we learn that Makhaya aska Paulina to marry him. It is through their relationship that we see the equality of both man and women. Their marriage symbolizes a much freer community. This community has evolved and has come together even more after the suicide of Matenge. Matenge was afraid of the people who stood with Paulina that he hung himself. I would say that the changes in the novel is evident through out the book. And that we learn that no matter how powerless we maybe we too can make a difference in bringing about change. If only we stand for the truth and we work together in harmony can we have a better society.