The Dark Side of South African Culture
South Africa is a very racially diverse country and as a result, went through a long period of racial struggle. Cry, the Beloved Country, by Alan Paton is a novel taking place in the 1940’s in South Africa that shows the struggles of a black priest named Stephen Kumalo. He travels from a region called Natal to the metropolis of Johannesburg in search of his sister and son, Absalom. Kumalo finds out that Absalom murdered the son of a white man named James Jarvis who also lives in Natal. His worst fears come true when Absalom is hanged later in the story; however Jarvis ends up helping Kumalo to rebuild his village, Ndotsheni. Throughout the novel, Alan Paton touched on the racial injustice of South Africa during this time period. However, his novel makes it seem like South Africa was not nearly as difficult of a place for black people to live as it was. He failed to show the full impact it had on South Africa’s culture.
In the 1940’s black people relied heavily on the public bus fare for transportation, making it an important part of South African culture. The white government forced black people to pay more money for bus rides and other necessities. The Public Utilitity Transport Cooperation (PUTCO) increased the weekly bus price by two pennies in the city Johannesburg. Eighty percent of Johannesburg Africans were living below the poverty line (South). Black people were already very poor at this time so a raise of cost was unfair and difficult to deal with for black people. In result to the high cost, black people successfully boycotted the buses (South). This must have been extremely hard for seniors and cripples. In the novel it says,
‘After a long time a car stopped and a white man spoke to them.
‘Where are you two going?’ ‘To Alexandra, sir’, said Msimangu,
taking off his hat. ‘I thought you might be. Climb in…It is a long
journey. And I know that you have no buses (Paton 75)....
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