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Barron's Booknotes-Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton

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CHAPTER 26

Back in Sophiatown, Johannesburg, John Kumalo is speaking. Dubula and Tomlinson envy him his powerful voice; policemen think the government ought to pick him up or shoot him; Kumalo is awed at how his brother's voice moves him. But Msimangu is glad the man is too corrupt to use his power fully. John urges higher wages but stops short of inciting a strike, lest he lose his own comfortable life. John Harrison and James Jarvis also listen, and then go on to John's and Arthur's boys' club.



Still, the strike occurs. The narrator says the miners include 300,000 black men from many areas within and outside South Africa. Worry that a strike might spread to all black laborers in the country proves groundless. The strike comes and goes, with no extension beyond the mines. Only three miners were killed in the fighting. (The narrator is again using a touch of sarcasm. The "only" would not have been used in news reports if the three dead men had been white owners instead of black workers.)

NOTE: In December, 1984, black South African Bishop Desmond Tutu complained that the whole world was upset over the murder of one Polish priest but few people were concerned over the daily killings of scores of blacks in South Africa.

A clergyman (Father Beresford, maybe?) at the annual meeting for priests attached to the diocese of Johannesburg says it's time to recognize the African Mine Workers' Union, but no one listens. The narrator again uses an ironic tone, wanting us to understand that those who fink unions and tribal decay and lack of schools and crime are right, and that the quiet at the mines is like the apparent quiet in nature. In reality something is always stirring, and only fools think things are settled.

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Barron's Booknotes-Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton
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