Cry, the Beloved Country, and piles of wool

by Kit Munro

Another day shearing sheep. I only had 74 sheep to shear today so it was a short day. Finished nice and early. The wool is beginning to pile up in the woolshed. The wool off several hundred sheep makes quite a pile.

Today, in keeping with my South African theme I listened to Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton. This is the most moving book I have yet read. I had to be a bit careful, it wouldn’t do for a sheep shearer to be seen crying…

Maybe it was because I could relate to the main character, Kumalo. Being a chap from the country going to the big city he  was very bewildered, even overwhelmed. Any person from a rural background going to a big city for the first time, alone, can appreciate this:

One of the men points for him. “Johannesburg, umfundisi”.

He is silent, his head aches, he is afraid. There is this railway station to come, this great place with all its tunnels under the ground. The train stops, under a great roof, and there are thousands of people…He goes carefully that he may not bump anybody, holding tightly to his bag…The noise is immense. Cars and buses one behind the other, more than he has ever imagined.

Perhaps it is that despite the suffering endured by many characters in this book, the tone of the story is still hopeful. A pity that the story was written and set just before Apartheid got in to swing. Or maybe it is not a pity at all.

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

Most of all, I think though, was that this book provides the most eloquent justification for the role of the defence lawyer. An issue I often find myself facing.

That was what I read, this is what I achieved while reading…. A few hundred kilos of wool.



The woolen jersey your grandmother knitted you is NOT made out of this wool. Merino wool is more likely to go into this sort of stuff. Some of the old owners of the wool, oblivious:

This Book is number #173 on Flynn’s list.I found my copy of Alan Paton’s Cry, the Beloved Country here. If anyone knows of another place this audiobook is available please let me know in the comments below.