At Masvingo, near Great Zimbabwe, when Itai’s mother and father died of a plague, he was too young to understand. His aunts and uncles took him in, but they didn’t want him. They didn’t give him anything; they didn’t teach him anything. He would have been ignored entirely except that he learned to make people laugh. At first it was by accident, as when he stumbled or spilled something. He tried to do what other people did, but when he did it, it was all wrong. He tried to dance as his cousins danced, but his ragged clothes and bad timing made his attempts seem pathetic. He tried to say important things, but when people listened to him, they only laughed. Itai knew that Mwari gave all his people a garden and seeds for living well. For most Shona, this was the protection of their clan, but as Itai grew up he learned that cunning and cleverness worked better for him than kindness.