If I were to sum up this book in a single word, I’d say delightful. It is so beautifully written. Living breathing history, because some of the narrators are likely still alive as it has only been twenty-eight years since the book was published. At the beginning, Bessie head regrets that Africa had no Charles Dickens of her own to document the minutiae of village life that she may have used as a compass, however she manages wihtout ‘him’ admirably.

The book takes you on a journey through Bamangwato country. You get to hear first voice what the people have to say on account of themselves. Who am I? Where have I come from? What have I seen? What is my opinion of where I have been and where I see that I am going? All these questions are answered candidly by these very engaging Serowans.

I’ve fallen in fascination with Botswana because of this book. I want to go see for myself all these places mentioned. I’d love to look up the narrators and hear what they think of the state of things now compared to their earlier expectations.

As Bessie Head takes such a humble approach to writing, reading then becomes a humbling experience. The story is timeless and so real because almost exactly what Botswana was going through twenty odd years ago, I see happening all around me today, evoking in my parents’ and grandparents’ generations exactly the reaction of the older generation narrators whose voices form part of the book.

Bessie Head’s style of writing is light and joyous. It is very enjoyable to read and the themes are so well interwoven that the flow of the story carries your imagination away. You may be interested in history or anthropology or crafts or social studies… In this book you’ll learn plenty about Southern African History (pre and colonial) the whys, wherefores and their effects fifty years on, plenty about the economic history of Bamangwato country and even how to build traditional huts and blankets.

If fifty two African writers each wrote one such book on one African country, we’d have the entire continent covered and all the world would be inspired by so many African voices. As India Arie would put it, this book is a dose of age old philosophy.

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