Cry, the beloved country, for the unborn child that is the inheritor of our fear. Let him not love the earth too deeply. Let him not laugh too gladly when the water runs through his fingers, nor stand too silent when the setting sun makes red the veld with fire. Let him not be too moved when... read more
The novel opens in a small village in Ixopo Ndotsheni, where the black pastor Stephen Kumalo receives a letter from the priest Theophilus Msimangu in Johannesburg. Msimangu urges Kumalo to come to the city to help his sister Gertrude, because she is ill. Kumalo goes to Johannesburg to help... read more (warning: may contain spoilers)
The novel opens in a small village in Ixopo Ndotsheni, where the black pastor Stephen Kumalo receives a letter from the priest Theophilus Msimangu in Johannesburg. Msimangu urges Kumalo to come to the city to help his sister Gertrude, because she is ill. Kumalo goes to Johannesburg to help Gertrude and to find his son Absalom, who had gone to the city to look for Gertrude but never came home. When he gets to the city, Kumalo learns that Gertrude has taken up a life of prostitution and beer brewing, and is now drinking heavily. She agrees to return to the village with her young son. Assured by these developments, Kumalo embarks on the search for his son, first seeing his brother John, a carpenter who has become involved in the politics of South Africa. Kumalo and Msimangu follow Absalom's trail only to learn that Absalom has been in a reformatory and impregnated a young woman. Shortly thereafter, Kumalo learns that his son has been arrested for murder. The victim is Arthur Jarvis who is killed during a burglary. Arthur was an engineer, a white activist for racial justice and happens to be the son of Kumalo's neighbour James Jarvis.
Jarvis learns of his son's death and comes with his family to Johannesburg. Jarvis and his son had been distant, and now the father begins to know his son through his writings. Through reading his son's essays, Jarvis decides to take up his son's work on behalf of South Africa's black population.
Absalom is sentenced to death for the murder of Arthur Jarvis. Before his father returns to Ndotsheni, Absalom marries the girl who is carrying his child, and she joins Kumalo's family. Kumalo returns to his village with his daughter-in-law and nephew, having found that Gertrude ran away on the night before their departure.
Back in Ixopo, Kumalo makes a futile visit to the tribe's chief in order to discuss changes that must be made to help the barren village. Help arrives, however, when James Jarvis becomes involved in the work. He arranges to have a dam built and hires a native agricultural demonstrator to implement new farming methods.
The novel ends at dawn on the morning of Absalom's execution.
“-At first it was a search. I was anxious at first, but as the search went on, step by step, so did the anxiety trun to fear, and this fear grew deeper deeper step by step. It was at Alexandra that I first grew afraid, but it was here in your House, when we heard of the murder, that my fear grew into something too great to be borne-”
“I see only one hope for our country, and that is when white men and black men . . . desiring only the good of their country, come together to work for it. . . . I have one great fear in my heart, that one day when they are turned to loving, they will find we are turned to hating.”Msimangu
“This is no time to talk of hedges and fields, or the beauties of any country. . . . Cry for the broken tribe, for the law and the custom that is gone. Aye, and cry aloud for the man who is dead, for the woman and children bereaved. Cry, the beloved country, these things are not yet at an end.”Stephen Kumalo
“And now for all the people of Africa, the beloved country. Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika, God save Africa. But he would not see that salvation. It lay afar off, because men were afraid of it. Because, to tell the truth, they were afraid of him, and his wife, and Msimangu, and the young demonstrator. And what was there evil in their desires, in their hunger? That man should walk upright in the land where they were born, and be free to use the fruits of the earth, what was there evil in it? . . . They were afraid because they were so few. And such fear could not be cast out, but by love.”Stephen Kumalo
“It was this world alone that was certain.”
““But in Johannesburg it is hard t sometimes find that kind of quiet.”“In Johannesburg? Everywhere is its so. The peace of God escapes us.””
““…You cannot stop the world from going on. My friend, I am a Christian. It is not in my heart to hate a white man. It was a white man who brought my father out of darkness. But you will pardon me if I talk frankly to you. The tragedy is not that things are broken. The tragedy is that they are not mended again…But the house that is broken, and the man that falls apart when the house is broken, these are the tragic things.””
““Some of us think that when we have power we shall revenge ourselves on the white man who has had power, and because our desire is corrupt, we are corrupted, and the power has no heart in it…when a man loves, he seeks no power, and therefore he has power.””
““Yes, God save Africa, the beloved country. God save us from the depths of our sins. God save us from the fear that is afraid of justice. God save us from the fear that is afraid of men. God save us all.””
““Cry, the beloved country, for the unborn child that is the inheritor of our fear. Let him not love the earth too deeply. Let him not laugh too gladly when the water runs through his fingers, nor stand too silent when the setting sun makes red the veld with fire. Let him not be too moved when the birds of his land are singing, nor give too much of his heart to a mountain or a valley. For fear will rob him of all if he gives too much.””
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