The white man has broken the tribe. And it is my belief—and again I ask your pardon—that it cannot be mended again. But the house that is broken, and the man that falls apart when the house is broken, these are the tragic things. That is why children break the law, and old white people are robbed and beaten.

Msimangu makes this statement in Chapter 5 after he welcomes Kumalo to Johannesburg, while discussing the troubles of Gertrude and Absalom. Msimangu explains to Kumalo what he believes has gone wrong with their country: the tribal bonds have been broken, giving young men and women no reason to stay in their villages. These youths then go to Johannesburg, where they inevitably lose their way and become morally corrupt. Msimangu is very explicit about the cause-and-effect relationship that he perceives between the deterioration of black culture and crime against whites. As such, he expresses the novel’s central preoccupation with the matter of tribal structure and its important role in holding the country’s black population together.