And he told them all about these places, of the great hills and valleys of that far country. And the love of them must have been in his voice, for they were all silent and listened to him. He told them too of the sickness of the land, and how the grass had disappeared, and of the dogas that ran from hill to valley, and valley to hill; how it was a land of old men and women, and mothers and children; how the maize grew barely to the height of a man; how the tribe was broken, and the house broken, and the man broken; how when they went away, many never came back, many never wrote any more. How this was true not only in Ndotsheni, but also in the Lufafa, and the Imhlavini, and the Umkomaas, and the Umzimkulu.
– Cry the Beloved Country, 52.
If it weren’t for the tears that keep swelling in my throat and stealing my voice I would tell you a story. Not of far off places with hills and valleys but of places that are near with great buildings and dark alleys.
If you had the time I would speak the story of children.
I would tell of sons and daughters, boys and girls, fathers and mothers. Here too the grass has disappeared and the concrete has cracked. The city, the people, the children, are broken.
If I could speak eloquently maybe you would understand, maybe your heart too would break.
If my voice were stronger I would command you to stay.
If I could make you understand perhaps then you would join in a journey with the disappeared and disappearing.
This is true. This is here.
But no. My stories have no power to stir an audience. My voice cannot create transformation. Searching for thunder I only find a whisper. A stuttering that fades to silence. And awkwardness. And grief. I cannot tell a story that will make you care.
And so I stay. I wait. I come back. Again and again. You will not listen and so I will show you my story. I will become my story.
You will not journey with the broken and so I will become the brokenness that you can see.
You will not journey with the grieving and so I will become the grief that you can see.
You will not journeying with the weak and so I will be become the weakness that you can see.
Perhaps then you too will join us.
Cry, the beloved country, for the unborn child that is 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 of all if he gives too much.
– Cry, the Beloved Country, 111.
My beloved, how I have missed you. Come child, we will cry together and perhaps our warmth will get us through the colder hours of the night.
I will take your tears and give them a voice.
I will take your groanings and give them an audience.
I will take your despair and give it hope.
I will take your loneliness and give it fellowship.
I will take your hate and give it love.
I will take your rage and give it peace.
The sun of righteousness will rise. With healing in its wings.