The Kalahari Typing School for Men

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The Kalahari Typing School for Men
First edition
Author Alexander McCall Smith
Country Scotland
Language English
Series The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series
Genre Detective, Mystery novel
Publisher Polygon Books
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback), Audio (Cassette & CD)
Pages 191 pp
ISBN 1-4000-3136-2
OCLC 49902099
823/.914 21
LC Class PR6063.C326 M67 2002
Preceded by Morality for Beautiful Girls (2001)
Followed by The Full Cupboard of Life (2004)

The Kalahari Typing School for Men is the fourth in The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series of novels by Alexander McCall Smith, set in Gaborone, Botswana, and featuring the Motswana protagonist Precious Ramotswe.

Plot summary[edit]

Personal life[edit]

The book starts out with Mma Ramotswe talking to her fiance, Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, about the future of her assistant, Mma Grace Makutsi, who seems to have difficulty finding suitable men. When Mma Ramotswe talks to Mma Makutsi about this, the latter takes on a demeanor of defeat, and the conversation ends at that.

The focus shifts to Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni's garage, and more specifically, the apprentices, formerly described as lazy young men "always looking at girls." However, there is quite a change in the younger apprentice, who seems to have found religion and is now uninterested in discussing girls, to the chagrin of his fellow apprentice.

When Mma Ramotswe arrives at home, both of her foster children seem down, with Motholeli and Puso being the subject of mainly verbal bullying. Motheleli seems to get over this, however Puso projects his anger at his foster parents and says that he "hates them."

To increase her income, Mma Makutsi decides to open a typing school just for men, because, in her view, men usually cannot or don't want to type because they don't want to be bettered by women or do not want to be seen doing "woman's work". She manages to procure typewriters from her alma mater, the Botswana Secretarial College, and finds a place to teach at the younger apprentice's church. This business is very successful.

Mma Makutsi then gets involved with one of her students, a Mr. Bernard Selelipeng, a married man passing himself off as divorced. Consequent to parallel developments involving Mma Ramotswe, Mr. Selelipeng is forced to break off with Mma Makutsi (see below).

To solve the current problem with Puso, Mma Ramotswe goes to the orphanage to consult the matron, Mma Silvia Potokwane, about him. Mma Potokwane's advises having Mr J.L.B Matekoni act as more of a father to the boy. Mr. J.L.B Matekoni does this, with apparently favorable results.

The story ends with a picnic, attended by the apprentices, Mma Ramotswe, Mma Makutsi, Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, Rra and Mma Potokwane, Mma Boko, and Mr. Molefelo and his family (see below).

Business Problems for the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency[edit]

A rival detective agency, called the Satisfaction Guaranteed Agency, has come to town. The business is owned by Cephas Buthelezi, "Ex-CID, Ex-New York, Ex-cellent!". Whether he has actually been to New York is questionable, since he never answers Mma Makutsi's questions about it directly. He is of Zulu origin. His advertising is extremely derogatory towards the No. 1 Agency in a somewhat sideways manner; he implies that you need a man to do detective work properly. However, his hubris is repaid, and at the end of the book he comes into the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency and says he is giving up the business.


The Molefelo Case:
Mr. Molefelo is a prosperous civil engineer in Lobatse who is also the proprietor of a hotel and landowner with an ostrich ranch. As a young student at the Botswana Technical College in Gaborone, he had a girlfriend whom he had made pregnant. In order to pay for an abortion (which is illegal in Botswana) he had to pay 100 pula (about $20). Since he had no way to get money, he stole a radio from his host family, the Tsolamoseses. After the abortion, he got angry with his girlfriend and broke up with her.

After nearly getting killed by ostrich rustlers, Molefelo wants to set his life straight and apologize to both his girlfriend (named Tebogoå Bathopi) and the Tsolamoseses, and enlists Mma Ramotswe's help in finding them.

The Selelipeng Case:
Mma Selelipeng comes to the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency to confide in Mma Ramotswe that her husband is probably cheating on her. She also says that she tried Mr. Buthelezi's agency, but they did a most "unsatisfactory" job. Mma Ramotswe must now do a balancing act between satisfying the client and protecting Mma Makutsi.


  1. How to Find a Man
  2. Learn to Drive with Jesus
  3. To Kill a Hoopoe
  4. Trust Your Affairs to a Man
  5. The Talking Cure
  6. Old Typewriters Gathering Dust
  7. What Mr. Molefelo Did
  8. The Typewriters and a Prayer Meeting
  9. The Civil Service
  10. The Kalahari Typing School for Men Throws Open its Doors (to Men)
  11. Mma Ramotswe Goes to a Small village to the South of Gaborone
  12. The Miracle that was Wrought at Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors
  13. Tea at the Orphan Farm
  14. Mr. Bernard Selelipeng
  15. A Disgruntled Client
  16. Mma Ramotswe Gets a Flat Tyre; Mma Makutsi Goes to the Cinema with Mr. Bernard Selelipeng
  17. Finding Tebogo
  18. A Radio is a Small Thing
  19. No. 42 Limpopo Court
  20. Two Awkward Men Satisfactorily Disposed of