Migration and Exile: The Exotic Essence of Life in Bessie Head’s When Rain Clouds Gather

  • Joshua Agbo
Part of the African Histories and Modernities book series (AHAM)


Under the flashing light of hope, Makhaya Maseko, the protagonist of Bessie Head’s When Rain Clouds Gather, seeks exile in a world elsewhere. For him, exile is always about a journey and the discovery of new places through migration. It is about the search for home by homing away from the harsh environment of one’s birthplace. It is about the search for selfhood, the shaping, and reshaping of migratory experience by peeling off the old self for a new self to grow. It is about the redefinition of the exile’s identity within the migratory space. To be more than one, Makhaya changes his name and identity in several circumstances, and from the beginning of the story, he has a feeling of exile and he longs to be part of it. He represents both belonging and estrangement, desire and exile, migration, and the formation of multiple identities. He sees all of these as an existential core of life, regardless of the pains and harassments involved in the crossing of border to exile. He attempts to process the paradox of belonging to two worlds: that of South Africa and Botswana, in which the way he lives moulds his story and his story moulds the way he lives in these two worlds. This chapter explores the threshold of migration and exile within the post-colonial context.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joshua Agbo
    • 1
  1. 1.Anglia Ruskin UniversityCambridgeUK

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