CHAPTERS 30 to 36
Kumalo is reunited with his wife. She needs to have
confirmation from Kumalo that their son is to die.
Kumalo still hopes for mercy, but this is extremely
unlikely. He explains to his wife Gertrude’s absence, but introduces instead their new daughter. Kumalo’s wife embraces her new daughter and the small boy, and tells the boy that he is her
new child. The young girl bursts into tears at being shown such kindness.
On the way back to their home, there is a sudden break in the
drought and they have to run for cover. They have been praying long and hard for the rains to come.
Kumalo is uplifted by his return for although the community has been living on the edge of survival due to the drought; they are far more united than those he met in the impersonal city of Johannesburg.
Kumalo’s followers are well aware of the suffering he and his
family have gone through, for news travels fast in this small community, but he has gained much respect from them and they visibly show this to him.
He also has fresh enthusiasm in his work, being inspired by the
sermons of Msimangu. He resolves not to passively accept the problems faced by his community, and decides to go to the Chief, even though this may be a futile gesture, as the Chief has been reduced
to a mere figurehead, but at least he is doing all that he can do. He also goes to the school and meets with the Head Master, but the Head Master advises Kumalo that it is difficult to improve the
situation in the school because it is all down to economics.
Kumalo is determined to bring about an improvement to his
village, but all he meets is apathy and obstacles. He realizes that improvement can only come through the power of God, and he prays long and hard for the village of Ndotsheni.
He then had a surprise meeting with a small white boy on a
horse, who had ridden into the village seeking Kumalo. The young boy attends St. Mark’s School in Johannesburg and Kumalo tells him that his Church is called St. Mark’s. The boy wishes to
learn Zulu. The boy is Arthur Jarvis’ son. Kumalo tells him that the Zulu language is easy to learn and he will soon pick it up.
The pair has a long conversation, a mixture of English and Zulu, and the boy confirms that he will visit again so that Kumalo can speak more Zulu to him.
That night while they were eating their meal, a car came to the
Kumalo’s house with cans of milk for the children who are not yet at school. The man who brought the milk said that if the cans are cleaned and returned here, he will bring milk every day.
Kumalo is dumbfounded at this act of kindness.
Kumalo receives four letters from Johannesburg - one is from
Absalom to his wife, one is from Absalom to his parents, one is from Msimangu, and the last is from Mr. Carmichael.
The letter from Carmichael, the lawyer, explained that there would be no mercy, and the date for the execution had been set.
In Absalom’s letter to his parents he reveals that he is aware
of his fate and that he will not see them or his home village again. He is being cared for by a black Priest who is preparing Absalom for what lies ahead.
The date for Absalom’s execution approaches, and Kumalo decides
to meditate, and walks out of the valley onto the hills. There he meets James Jarvis, and Kumalo offers his condolences to James on the recent death of his wife. Jarvis is at pains to
reassure Kumalo that her death was not related to the murder of her son, but that she had been ill for some time.
Ever since his son’s death, Jarvis has felt a greater sympathy
for the black community. Jarvis would like to provide Kumalo and the village with a new Church.
There is still much concern over the condition of the land
although the recent rains have helped.
Perhaps Kumalo’s prayers are bearing fruit because a surveyor comes to review the condition of the land and to seek ways to improve it. It is decided that a dam should be built on Jarvis’ land, and this will help the irrigation of the valley.
Kumalo mourns for his son and the fact that he turned his back
on his family and ended up in bad company, which had led to the crime against the Jarvis’ family.
The two men become closer because of their shared grief, and
although they feel love for one another, there is still an invisible barrier between them.
The last Chapter of the book reverts to the format of the first
Chapter and provides a hope for the future of Ndotsheni and South Africa as a whole.
“Ndotsheni is still is darkness, but the light will come there
For it is the dawn that has come, and it has come for a thousand centuries, never failing. But when that dawn will come, of our emancipation, from the fear of bondage and the bondage of fear why, that is a secret.”