As much about the abusive treatment of women, and the clash of traditional and contemporary mores as it is about the HIV/AIDS pandemic, this beautifully crafted novel tells the story of a nineteen-year-old Mosa (for mosadi--woman) who has already lost two brothers to AIDS. The reader is caught up in the mega-deaths and non-mention of the dreaded acronym, AIDS, as the story unfolds. At their brother’s gravesite Mosa’s one remaining living brother is halted as he shovels in the final loads of earth: "All around him were fresh graves . . . He looked at the not fresh, fresh graves, and noted the dates of birth. Young people who had died prematurely . . . He had known about their long illnesses, their deaths and their funerals." (p. 20)

The author is the first (and only) female judge of the High Court of Botswana and a human rights activist. She is internationally renowned for bringing about the Dow Case, which challenged Botswana nationality laws; she argued successfully for revisions allowing women to pass their nationality on to their children.


In witnessing the hoof ceremony, it is hard not be embarrassed by the sanctioned humiliation of buying and paying for a bride. As in so many instances in this novel, the shame born out of powerlessness makes the reader cringe. On the other hand, there are occasions to both mourn and celebrate the dead. "Announcing the broom," head shaving and clothes-washing ceremonies, appeasing ancestors, and diviners’ practices are detailed so beautifully that we cannot help but respect the preservation of these rituals, along with the protagonist, who challenges belief systems while appreciating the precious rhythms of African culture.

A marvelous two-page excerpt of the book from the AFLA (Africa Legal Aid) Quarterly, January-March, 2001: HIV/AIDS and Human Rights, can be accessed through Google (search for Far and Beyon’ and look for URL containing "unimass".) Another excellent companion piece would be Bessie Head’s novel, A Question of Power (see this database).



Place Published

Gaborone, Botswana



Page Count