CHAPTERS 30 to 36
The end of the drought in the valley of Umzimkulu symbolizes not
only the renewal of the land, but also the renewal of Kumalo’s spirit. Changed and inspired by his visit to Johannesburg, he endeavors to try and change the plight of the people of his
village. He may not be successful, but he decides that continued passive acceptance is not the way forward.
Initially he is met by obstacle after obstacle with his visits to the Chief and the Head Master, but the ingredients are there for their lives to improve because the people have a sense of community and spirit that is lacking in the city that he has come from.
Respect for Kumalo has increased through the suffering he has
endured and so he is in a position to inspire his flock, he being inspired by Msimangu who quietly worked for the good of humanity and was able to bring about small, but permanent changes to people’s
Kumalo can now go to the Chief and urge him to act because he
has a better insight into how the tribal system has failed the people. His experiences in the city have enabled him to be more courageous and to question the Chief’s word. By putting pressure
on the Chief, he might be able to make him react. He hopes to have better luck with the Head Master, but he too explains that his hands are tied.
Kumalo has no alternative but to pray harder for his people, and
coincidentally or not, James Jarvis who overlooks the valley has decided to continue his son’s work and give assistance to the black community.
He started this almost immediately by making a large donation to the African Boys’ Club, and now he provides milk for the village children. He is determined that his son’s life’s work will not have been in vain. He realizes that the future of South Africa is in the hands of the young, and so he encourages his grandson to learn Zulu in the hope that he will also have a better understanding of the natives’ problems, as he grows older.
Another seemingly unrelated incident occurs when a surveyor
arrives in the valley to assess the use of the land. Then Jarvis, whilst riding in the village, is caught in a downpour and has to take refuge in the Church.
He notices that the roof is leaking badly and promises to build a new Church for the village. It transpires that Jarvis has provided the valley with the surveyor who will assess the agricultural potential of the valley, the aim being for the land to be more productive. Jarvis is not interested in providing the people with charity, but putting them in the position that they can support themselves.
Paton clearly shows that the material side of people’s lives can
be easily addressed so that all the people can have a life above a mere subsistence level.
The real problem that South Africa faces is the integration of all the races, and this is a far more difficult challenge. He stresses the importance that the white community needs to understand their black neighbors. This is symbolized through Jarvis’ grandson wanting to learn Zulu.
Although there are numerous instances of white people being
caring and giving to black people, there is still a barrier between the races.
This is illustrated by the relationship between Jarvis and Kumalo in the final Chapters of the book. When Mrs. Jarvis dies, custom prevents Kumalo from visiting Jarvis, and he has to send a letter of condolence. When the pair meets on the mountainside, both mourning for their sons, something holds them back from fully opening their hearts to one another. Unless these barriers are broken down, then Msimangu’s prophecy, who you will recall is Paton’s mouthpiece, will come to fruition. He prophesied that by the time the whites realize that they must treat the blacks with justice and decency; their patience will have worn away and will have been replaced by hate.
At the end, Kumalo realizes that the solution to South Africa’s
problems is through true Christian love for one another.
It is important for the reader to realize that this book was
written during a dark period of South Africa’s history, but despite this Paton provides a ray of hope for the future.