The plot follows a black miner, Xuma, as he goes through a number of struggles, including introduced disease from Europeans as well as political and social trauma. Xuma moves from his town to Malay camp, a black area of Johannesburg, in search of work at the gold mines. Leah, an illegal beer brewer, gives him a place to live. Xuma is against the racist treatment of black Africans and fights it. Xuma falls in love with Leah’s niece, Eliza, who is assimilationist, and then with Maisy. Xuma becomes a successful miner, working for the supervisor Paddy. One of Leah's tenants, Johannes, and others, die in a mine accident and Xuma and Paddy lead a strike.
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