Roots: The Saga of an American Family Chapter 7 Summary

Alex Haley

Chapter 7 Summary

The Mandinka village, ripe with a harvest that is about to appear, enjoys the fruits of the early season. Everyone has more to eat. The women grind millet and harvest fruit. The men hunt antelopes. Both tend to their almost fully grown crops and rice as the Kamby Bolongo river tributary retreats quickly.

The children play again as their wounds from the lean time heal. Kunta Kinte has a good friend now, named Sitafa Silla, who accompanies him on most of his fun exploits. They invent all sorts of games to have fun. One day, they race dung beetles. Another day, they throw rocks at bands of monkeys in the trees to see if they will return the throw. The next day, they dig into a large, soft, termite mound to wake the creatures and watch them scurry off into the woods. The following day, they might scare a few ground squirrels and chase them into the forest. Finally, they might play a grand game where they pretend to be different animals of Africa. There is also a lot of wrestling, practice for when they are older and become warriors in the Mandinka tribe.

Still, no matter how much fun they are having, all children stop to give proper respect to their elders—what is called “home training lessons” in the Mandinka tribe. Kunta looks any adult in the eye as he asks, “Kerabe?" ("Do you have peace?"). Kunta exchanges hands and crosses his hands over his chest as any elder walks past.

Kunta always “tried his best to be a good boy.” Still, Kunta feels as if Binta is being too strict with him. He hears “irritated finger-snapping” or, worse, gets whipped or spanked for everything, such as not coming home clean, scaring his brother, or staring at a grownup or interrupting adult conversation. Young men often squabble, and Kunta and his friends are no exception; however, when an argument erupts, Kunta always shows great strength of character by walking away, one of the proudest traits of the Mandinka tribe. One infraction Kunta never commits is lying, as there is never any reason to in his tribe.

Still, Kunta always seems to get a spanking for something, and when Binta is at her wits' end, she yells, “I will bring the toubob!” to scare Kunta. This exclamation is in reference to an old story about strange, hairy white men who steal young Africans away in big canoes.