In 1968, Mathabane wakes to find his whole neighborhood in mourning, speaking of a black man named King that the white people killed in America. The other boys at school don’t know why this black man was more important than all the others white people have killed. His mother says she heard King was fighting for equal rights for black people in America. Mathabane asks if black people have equal rights in South Africa and his mother says they don’t. Privately, Mathabane longs for the “day when armies of black peasants would invade the white world” and kill every white person in sight. He promises his mother that he’ll fight for his own rights some day, but his mother remains silent.
It is ironic that Martin Luther King Jr.’s death should inspire Mathabane’s longing for bloody vengeance, since King himself preached non-violent resistance. However, Mathabane’s hatred and rage toward white people, especially coming from someone who is not naturally violent, suggests that such anger and rage are unavoidable consequences of black people’s long and severe oppression under the white apartheid government.