5. And now for all the people of Africa, the beloved country. Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika, God save Africa. But he would not see that salvation. It lay afar off, because men were afraid of it. Because, to tell the truth, they were afraid of him, and his wife, and Msimangu, and the young demonstrator. And what was there evil in their desires, in their hunger? That man should walk upright in the land where they were born, and be free to use the fruits of the earth, what was there evil in it? . . . They were afraid because they were so few. And such fear could not be cast out, but by love.
These thoughts are part of the novel’s conclusion, as Kumalo keeps his vigil on the mountain while Absalom hangs. Kumalo prays for Africa, even though he knows it will be a long time before his prayers are answered. He understands that fear is the root of injustice: white men fear black men because there are so few whites and so many blacks. They worry that if the basic needs of the black population are met, then there will be little left for them. Kumalo observes, however, that there is nothing evil in him or his desires, or in his people’s desire for a better life. They want simply their due as humans (to “walk upright” and “use the fruits of the earth”). They are not motivated by hatred and revenge, but by a simple desire for dignity. Kumalo’s rumination ends with a somewhat troubling paradox: for whites to stop being afraid, they must begin to understand and then love; in order to understand and then love, however, they must stop being afraid. It thus seems impossible for whites and blacks to exist as equals.