When a terrible drought hits, Duma’s birth is seen as an important omen in the Ndebele village where his family lives. It heralds the departure of his grandparents (Mabena and Mantombi) from their pastoral, traditional existence. They take Duma to Boekenhout, on the outskirts of a city, where Mabena, the grandfather, becomes a bridge between the past and the present, the urban and the rural. The harder Mabena tries to keep the the values of the past alive, the more intrigued and bedazzled Duma becomes by urban life and jazz music. Threatened at last by the introduction of the apartheid homelands policies, the family must return to their old village, where Duma is to be intitiated into manhood.