When Kumalo thinks about returning to Ndotsheni after visiting Johannesburg, what does he admit himself about the tribe?

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This section of the novel comes in Chapter 13, when Kumalo travels to Ezenzeleni with Msimangu and is given time to reflect on all that has happened to him since he left Ndotsheni to hunt for his son. He is left to ruminate in a place of great natural beauty, and this seems to help him as he tries to make sense of his experiences and what he has learnt.

Kumalo beings by becoming enraptured with plans for how he is going to "rebuilding". He reflects on how his experiences have given him a new humility and focuses on education as a key strategy as part of his rebuilding:

He would go back with a new and quickened interest in the school, not as a place where children learned to read and write and county only, but as a place where they must be prepared for life in a ny place to which they might go.

He clearly recognises the importance of education in preparing man for the new world that he has just witnessed in Johannesburg. And yet, as he is caught up in these raptures, the narrator adds a comment that completely undercuts this dreams:

For a moment he was caught up in a vision, as man so often is when he sists in a place of ashes and destruction.

It is this realisation that forces Kumalo to undergo a kind of epiphany when he is forced to confront a brutal truth: "The tribe was broken, and would be mended no more." He realises that the world has changed so radically that how he had been raised and nurtured is not sufficient for the new generation - sons and daughters are leaving the tribe and the land cannot provide for them. Yet what is crucial to an understanding of the book is the way that Kumalo, in spite of this sickening truth, goes back to Ndotsheni and fights to restore and rebuild the tribe. In spite of the massive obstacles that face him and the truth he has grasped (and which is echoed by others) he nevertheless perseveres to restore the tribe and its connection with God and the land.

Read the study guide:
Cry, the Beloved Country

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