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Maiguru is a complex, often contradictory, and multilayered character who
grows increasingly concerned about the development of her children and their
responses to the various cultural traditions, both Western and African, with
which they have been raised. Her fears and anxieties are rooted in her own
experience of trying to reconcile attitudes and behaviors that come from two
very different worlds. Her conflicting attitudes suggest the deep divide that
exists in her perception of herself as a woman and as an African. When the
family returns to Rhodesia, Maiguru wishes her children to retain the mark of
distinction and difference that they have achieved from living in a Western
society. She defends the fact that they have lost their ability to communicate
fluently in Shona, their native tongue. After the family has settled back into
life in Rhodesia, Maiguru’s reactions and attitudes change, and she grows
concerned at how Anglicized her children have become. Only when her daughter is
severely ailing in the final stages of the novel does she realize the dire
consequences of these conflicting cultural pressures that have been placed on
When the family returns to the homestead for the holidays, Maiguru, highly
educated and accustomed to earning her own living as an educator, is reduced to
a traditional role as domestic drudge. During subsequent holidays, Maiguru
refuses to attend the celebrations. Even more boldly, Maiguru confronts her
husband about her lack of respect and recognition in the family, an action that
leads to the even bolder move of her leaving the house altogether. Although she
returns to the family fold, Maiguru has evolved into a realistic model of modern
womanhood for the young girls in her care. She represents a subtle but emerging
voice of feminist dissent, a woman ahead of her time who attempts to enact
change in gradual and realizable ways.