‘If I disappeared, I’d expect my children to search for me high and low. A mother disappearing goes against the laws of nature. Fathers disappear all the time; it’s their speciality.’ Joseph Mabaso is used to his father Sobhuza’s long absences from the family home in Lusaka. Sobhuza is a freedom fighter and doing important work, and Joseph has learned not to ask questions. But when Chanda, his mother, disappears without a trace, leaving him and his siblings alone, Joseph knows that something is terribly wrong.
And so begins a journey, physically arduous and dangerous and emotionally fraught, that no 14-year-old boy should have to undertake alone. Following the
most tenuous of threads, Joseph finds some unlikely guides along the way: courageous Leila and her horses; Sis Violet and the guerrilla unit she
commands; Mr Chikwedere, stonecutter and illicit trader; Madala at the Lesedi Repatriation Camp, who helps him find his voice; and Aunt Susie Juma,
unofficial Zambian ambassador in Yeoville, Johannesburg, whose detective skills are legendary.