I see only one hope for our country, and that is when white men and black men . . . desiring only the good of their country, come together to work for it. . . . I have one great fear in my heart, that one day when they are turned to loving, they will find we are turned to hating.
Msimangu speaks these words in Chapter 7 immediately after he and Kumalo meet with John. Msimangu doubts John’s convictions, and instead of calling him a champion of justice, Msimangu calls John an example of power’s corrupting influence. Msimangu warns that power can corrupt black people as much as it corrupts white people. It is exactly this corruption that keeps South Africa in its predicament, and in this passage Msimangu unveils his dream of a selfless Christian faith that will bind all people—black and white—together.
Msimangu’s fear that by the time “they”—the whites—turn to loving, “we”—the blacks—will have turned to hating calls attention to Kumalo’s sense of the shift in black attitudes toward whites. Although Kumalo and Msimangu, members of an older generation, do not wish to cause strife, younger men such as Napoleon Letsitsi are less willing to tolerate white oppression. The willingness to be reconciled exists among both blacks and whites, Msimangu suggests, but never at the same time. Through Msimangu, Paton hints at the sad irony of a nation in which justice and racial equality are stymied by poor timing rather than bad intentions.