Characters in Maru by Bessie Head

Maru by Bessie Head
Front Cover of Bessie Head’s Maru

Some of the characters in Bessie Head’s Maru include Maru, Moleka, Dikeledi, Margaret Cardmore (the younger) and Margaret Cadmore (the elder).


Maru is one of the notable characters in Bessie Head’s Maru. He is an eponymous character because his name is used as the title of Bessie Head’s novel. Though Maru is entitled by blood to become the chief of his Dilepe village, Maru’s love for Margaret is such that he forgoes this privilege so as to be with her. In doing so, he demonstrates both the genuine nature of his affection and the strength of his character not being influenced by the prejudicial condemnations levelled at him by other people in his village.

He is a rather dreamy and impractical person, concerned more with imagining a future without prejudice than with bringing it into reality, but his eloping with Margaret, nonetheless, effects change, in demonstrating the possibility of a genuine interracial romance being possible. His greatest strength is his insight, his ability to read and understand the world and the people within it, with the exception of his best friend, Moleka.



Moleka, while being Maru’s best friend, is also his foil, his exact opposite in Bessie Head’s Maru. Where Maru has a powerful imagination and creative instinct, Moleka has a practical mind and bundles of energy.

Both men share a desire to rid their nation of prejudice, but Moleka wishes to do so quickly, without waiting for the long process of enlightenment that Maru expects to be necessary for this to take place. Moleka’s decision to invite his Masarwa servants to sit with him for a meal demonstrates that, like Maru, he doesn’t care what others think of him.

The friendship between Maru and Moleka is ruined by the arrival of Margaret who, for Maru, constitutes the creative imagination that his friend lacks. Together, Margaret and Moleka would possess both the imagination and the practical capacity to bring about their dreams of the future.

Maru by Bessie Head
Front Cover of Bessie Head’s Maru


Dikeledi is a sister to Maru. She is a visionary like her brother, but with more of Moleka’s practical thinking and energy for action. Having pursued an education in England, she returns to Botswana and becomes a schoolteacher in her village, where she meets Margaret. She is impressed by the other woman’s honesty about her tribal heritage, even in the face of racism, and facilitates her creative impulses by providing her with art supplies. She eventually marries Moleka at Maru’s persuasion, due in part to the fact that she has become pregnant with his child.

Margaret Cadmore (the younger)

Margaret is one of the major characters in Maru. She is a young Masarwa woman who has suffered terribly as a child from mockery and exclusion due to her race. These adversities inspire her to turn to a life of study and become an excellent student. As an adult, she has the courage to declare her tribal heritage proudly, despite the continual abuse this admission earns her.

She has a vibrant creative mind, and she attracts the admiration of not only Maru but, also, his best friend, Moleka, and sister. While she initially loves Moleka, she is convinced by the genuine nature of Maru’s love to go with him and marry him.

Margaret Cardmore (the elder)

Margaret Cadmore (the senior) is the adoptive mother of the young Margaret. This white missionary to Africa discovered her adopted daughter on the side of a road alongside the body of her birth mother.

Her decision to adopt the child and arrange for the honourable burial of the mother demonstrates her good heart, even though she is described as somewhat irritable due to a life of strict abstinence and self-denial.

Further Reading:

WHATSAPP: Click HERE to join the new Literature PADI WhatsApp group to receive latest updates on your phone and for further literary discussions!



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.