REVEREND STEPHEN KUMALO
He is the protagonist of the novel, the native priest of the
small village of Ndotsheni.
The names of some of the characters have significance and we relate to St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr who was stoned to death. Kumalo has seen his immediate family disperse to the sprawling city of Johannesburg. He has seen the old customs decline and the increasing oppression of his people. He is often referred to as ‘umfundisi’, which is a term used when speaking respectfully to a parson. Kumalo is a good and humble man, but can sometimes lose his temper due to frustration.
Kumalo’s son, he soon falls into a life of petty crime after
running away to the bright city lights of Johannesburg. He falls into bad company, which eventually leads to the murder of Arthur Jarvis, for which he is convicted and sentenced to death.
Along the way, he meets a young girl, but deserts her when she becomes pregnant.
Kumalo’s younger sister by twenty-five years, Gertrude travels
to Johannesburg looking for the father of her young son. In order to support the child, she resorts to prostitution.
He is Kumalo’s brother who turns his back on the Church and
becomes a powerful and corrupt black politician in Johannesburg. He wishes to play the part of Chief, and keep all the trappings that this would bring.
He is a kind young priest who runs a Mission House in
Johannesburg. Msimangu inspires Kumalo with his good sermons and aids him in his search for his family. He concentrates his efforts in dealing the oppression suffered by his flock.
He is a wealthy farmer who lives close to Ndotsheni.
His son is murdered by Absalom Kumalo and Jarvis dedicates himself to helping the oppressed people of Ndotsheni after his son’s death.
The murdered son of James Jarvis, he is a social activist
determined to bring social reform to South Africa.
Kumalo’s landlady in Johannesburg, she becomes a close friend.
She takes in Kumalo’s sister and child.
He is an English priest who assists Kumalo in obtaining a
defense lawyer for his son.
He is a famous lawyer who takes on Absalom Kumalo’s case for free.