In Africa, a child wanders too far into the Knysna Forest. He never returns. Nine years later, two government officials, working on a census, find a white child living with a coloured family in the mountains on the other side of the forest. They take him away from the stricken Fiela, who has brought him up, and give him back to his 'original' family. Whipped into using a new name and calling strangers 'ma' and 'pa', Benjamin is so stunned that he cannot cry and waits for Fiela to reclaim him. But Fiela, powerless before authority, never comes. So Benjamin has to grow up before he can go in search of the truth.