How does Kumalo feel when he tells his fascinated nephew about his homeland?
It is clear that Kumalo relishes the opportunities he has to play with his nephew and to tell him stories of his homeland. It is important perhaps for Kumalo, whilst he is going through so much that is new and having to learn about the realities of city life that he is able to remember his valley and home and traditions:
Or he would tell him of the great valley where he was born, and the names of hills and rivers, and the school that he would go to, and the mist that shrouded the tops above Ndotsheni. Of this the child understood nothing; yet something he did understand, for he would listen solemnly to the deep melodious names, and gaze at his uncle out of wide and serious eyes. And this to the uncle was pleasure indeed, for he was homesick in the great city; and something inside him was deeply satisfied by this recital.
One of the key themes in this novel is the deep, abiding connection between man and land, and it is interesting that Kumalo's description seems to trigger some sort of nascent connection between his nephew and the land of his forefathers. Much of the novel concerns the problems that arise due to urbanisation - the mass migration of people from their home land to cities, where the link between land and people is severed. Kumalo, through his education and discoveries in the course of the novel, makes it his goal to keep his people in his land and restore the connection between the tribe and land that has been eroded.