Chapter 33 Summary
The sticks stay in the ground for a long time. Absalom’s wife settles into her new life, and the young children grow healthier now that they have milk to drink. Kumalo continues to worry about the land, but he is beginning to think that Jarvis will find a way to save it.
After a long time, the little white boy returns to the village and tells Kumalo he wants another Zulu lesson. Kumalo brings the child inside and lets him recite the new Zulu words he has recently learned. After a while, Kumalo begins speaking sentences and trying to get the boy to translate them.
Halfway through this lesson, Kumalo’s wife enters the room and stands in shock at the sight of the little white boy sitting at the table. She is painfully aware that this child is the son of the man Absalom murdered, and she does not know what to say. She cannot handle it, so she leaves as Kumalo compliments the boy’s Zulu and encourages him to keep practicing.
As the boy leaves to go home, Kumalo spots Jarvis’s car driving up the hill. Meanwhile, a young man is standing in the road at the edge of the village. He introduces himself as Napoleon Letsitsi and explains that he is “an agricultural demonstrator.” He has studied all the modern farming methods, and Jarvis has just hired him to help the people of Ndotsheni become better farmers.
Thrilled, Kumalo invites Letsitsi inside, and the young man begins talking about the farming practices that can heal the land. People should use dung for fertilizer rather than fuel, and they should plow along the contours of the hills, and they should plant trees to control erosion along the streams. The hardest part will be convincing the men not to keep so many cows, because in Zulu culture, a man’s wealth is determined by the number of cows he owns. These measures sound right to Kumalo, who repeatedly calls Letsitsi “an angel from God.”
Outside, Kumalo hears horse hooves, and he goes out to see the little white boy again. The child says that he has come to say good-bye. His family is returning to Johannesburg, but he promises to come back for more Zulu lessons during the school holidays.
After the child is gone, Kumalo and Letsitsi take a walk through Ndotsheni, and Letsitsi warns that it will take time and effort to heal the land. Kumalo says he does not mind, but he hopes the job will be done before he dies. “For I have lived my life in destruction,” he says.