Roots: The Saga of an American Family Chapter 10 Summary

Alex Haley

Chapter 10 Summary

The night after Kunta first receives his coveted dundiko, Binta tells him that his father wants to see him in the morning. Kunta stays up much of the night thinking and worrying about this, but he is pleased in the morning to approach his father’s hut and have his father hand to him a brand-new slingshot. Kunta must learn to herd the goats of the village now.

Kunta follows his “trainer,” a boy a bit older than him named Toumani, as well as the other boys his age out to the grazing grounds with the goats. The older boys taunt the younger ones a bit, allowing the goats to be herded right into Kunta and his friends with their new dundikos flowing behind them.

It isn’t long before Toumani and the others begin lecturing Kunta and his friends about just how important goats are to the village and the severe beating they may receive from their fathers if a goat is lost or killed. Kunta is instructed on the wild animals, such as panthers and lions, that may stalk the goats from the forest. These animals also wouldn't think anything of eating a little boy for breakfast, either.

By midday, however, there is something worse even than wild animals in this forest: the toubob (white men) who come to steal African boys away “to eat them.” Kunta listens in fear to all that Toumani is telling him, but he concentrates on the more menial tasks of herding as well, such as how to keep the tribe’s crops free of menaces, such as monkeys, antelopes, and wild pigs.

After lunch, Toumani and friends allow Kunta and the other boys his age to try herding the goats until they are yelled at to gather wood for the village fires at night. Kunta struggles to keep the large load of wood from falling off his head while he heads back to the village, dead tired.

The next morning, Kunta receives his first instructions from the arafang and prepares to learn large portions of the Koran by heart. Kunta will be required to do this before he is allowed to move up to the next age group. After being fussed at by the arafang and bullied by the older boys and nagged by the adults of the tribe, Kunta marvels at the amount of responsibility thrust upon him, so much that he no longer has time to think.