Makhaya has fled South Africa because of his involvement in a bomb plot. He crosses the border into Botswana, and after being befriended by Dinorego, he decides to stay in the village of Golema Mmidi. Dinorego immediately introduces him to Gilbert, a British agricultural specialist who has also made the village of Golema Mmidi his home. Dinorego calls Gilbert his son, and explains to Makhaya that Gilbert is a giving person, always wanting to help people become more prosperous. He tells him that Gilbert can even eat the local food—sour milk porridge and goat meat—which has turned European stomachs in the past.
Gilbert has been working diligently on a cattle cooperative in Botswana for three years, and everyone has been looking forward to reaping its benefits except Chief Matenge. Matenge, who is a spoiled and authoritarian troublemaker, has been dispatched by his brother Sekoto to Golema Mmidi to keep Gilbert from becoming a nuisance. Matenge and Gilbert have been at loggerheads for many months over the cooperative, and every advance that Gilbert makes in the project results in two steps back because of Matenge’s intrusions.
Dinorego refers Makhaya to Gilbert, believing the newcomer can assist the Englishman in his agricultural undertakings. Gilbert invites Makhaya to share a meal with him at his house, and he is amazed when Makhaya explains the simple tribal name that he was given. Gilbert decides that Makhaya is not interested in tribalism and decides to take him on as a worker on his farm. He teaches Makhaya how to drive a tractor and gives him lessons in agriculture; Makhaya then utilizes his knowledge of the Tswana language to pass on the European’s agricultural information to the women of the village.
Golema Mmidi has suffered a drought, and without cultivation the land and streams were taken over by dry grass. Gilbert sees that fencing the area would prevent the livestock from freely grazing and would prevent desertification, but Matenge tells people that Gilbert wants to enslave them by putting up fences on their land. Gilbert wins the elders over by showing them the progress made by fencing his own land. Soon, everyone is interested in the changes that Gilbert…