South African Snapshots: no 17

Cry, the beloved country.

One of the few beautiful things to come out of oppression is poetry, songs and literature. People pour their emotions into the only way they have to express themselves. One of the most beautiful and important works in twentieth-century South African literature is the haunting and moving Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton. It addresses race relation in the country with precision, honesty and compassion. The book was first published in 1948, the same year as apartheid was legislated by the National Party. This is my favourite quote from the book:

“Cry, the beloved country, for the unborn child that’s the inheritor of our fear. Let him not love the earth too deeply. Let him not laugh too gladly when the water runs through his fingers, nor stand too silent when the setting sun makes red the veld with fire. Let him not be too moved when the birds of his land are singing. Nor give too much of his heart to a mountain or a valley. For fear will rob him if he gives too much.”

Cry the beloved country


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