Chapter 26 Summary
Kunta and his friends return, as men, to Juffare amid the joyous shouts of all the women of the Mandinka tribe. Now in the familiar place where he was born and grew up, Kunta struggles to act with the proper amount of dignity expected of a man, especially when he first sees his mother, Binta. Still, Binta throws herself upon Kunta Kinte which he allows for only a moment before he pulls away in order to “inspect” his new baby brother, Madi. Kunta is equally surprised to see how much his brother Suwadu has grown. Kunta wants so much to tell Binta how much he has missed her, but alas, that kind of behavior is no longer befitting of a man. Kunta remains silent except to ask for his own father.
Omoro is cutting thatch to build the roof of Kunta’s very own hut. Omoro greets Kunta by shaking hands and looking deep into his eyes. Finally, Omoro regards his son as a man. Then Kunta walks the village of Juffare with a newfound respect for each village member. Kunta realizes that he has been homesick. Now he wants to see one woman above any other: Nyo Boto. Kunto enters Nyo Boto’s hut, but the old grandmother simply regards Kunta with terse grunts. Kunta is hurt and saddened, but he understands that he can no longer seek any comfort from a woman.
Finally, Kunta hears his brother, Lamin, coming back from herding the goats. They are excited to see each other but stop short of embracing. A Mandinka man must be regarded with respect, even from his younger brother. Lamin does inform Kunta that both of Kunta’s female goats are pregnant. Kunta is thrilled to have his own herd growing larger.
Kunta then returns to his mother’s hut to gather his things. Binta promises to make Kunta some new clothes and hands him a new prayer mat that she has woven during his manhood training. She also gives him his other necessities like a bowl and spoon and gourd and pallet. Kunta simply grunts with “no objection” to the gifts.
The next morning, Kunta gathers up his new prayer mat and exits his new hut in order to attend morning prayers in Juffare’s mosque for the first time in his life. Kunta copies all of the actions of the older men in their bowing and recitation. After prayer, Kunta and his friends attend to their duties. They are actually disappointed to see that the women’s cooking pots are free from bugs and the well is clean; they wanted to reprimand a woman or two. Kunta’s mind returns to his own mother (who he is now avoiding). Kunta reminds himself that he will have to “show [Binta] no special favors....After all, she was a woman.”