Oppression in Cry Freedom Cry, the Beloved Country

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Oppression in Cry Freedom Cry, the Beloved Country

For years the government of South Africa suppressed its black population. Oppression that wasn’t deserved, oppression based on difference in color. In both of these works, the cries of South Africa were heard. The cries of the black people that are the foundation of South Africa, the blacks that were the heart of what South Africa was all about. In both stories, there is the fact that the only way to change your ways sometimes has to come through suffering.

In Cry Freedom, we see change through extreme suffering in the character of Donald Woods. Woods starts out in the movie as being not really open to the ideas of black consciousness. He sees them as only getting the blacks into more trouble. After meeting Biko, he starts to warm up to the ideas the blacks hold precious, but when Biko dies, Woods becomes a whole new man. Immediately, Woods begins to notify the public about how these blacks are being treated. He changes the way he goes about fighting for the rights of the blacks. Before, he only stood behind the black population of South Africa. After Biko’s death, he leads them. He is looked down upon by most whites, and hate crimes, like when the police came to his house and shot through the windows, are committed against him and his family. Yet still, he fights. He moves his whole family away and writes a book to help the plighted blacks in South Africa. After Biko’s death, he begins to see himself as the only one who can continue Biko’s hope for South Africa.

In Cry, the Beloved Country, every character involved goes through severe suffering and it leads to change. Kumalo goes through tremendous suffering, with the death of his son. He has to face it, and begin to understand the many problems in the lives of the black population in South Africa. He leaves Johannesburg with a new and improved view on the changes taking in place in the South Africa that he used to know. We see Kumalo’s change after he returns to Ndotsheni. “Kumalo began to pray regularly in his church for the restoration of Ndotsheni. But he knew that was not enough. Somewhere down here upon the earth men must come together, think something, do something”(Paton 263). He now realizes that praying isn’t enough, that he has to work toward making South Africa a better place.
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