Study Guide

Binta Kinte in Roots: The Saga of an American Family

By Alex Haley

Binta Kinte

Binta and Kunta butt heads sometimes, as mothers and sons often do, but the love between them should be an inspiration—-not to mention a helpful reminder to call our moms a bit more often.

From the time he's born, "little Kunta basked [...] every day in his mother's tenderness" (2.9). That's some sunny language. Like all Mandinka children, Kunta spends most of his time with his mom, even coming along when she works in the rice fields. This creates a powerful bond between the pair that doesn't waver a bit—at least not until Kunta becomes a man.

After Kunta's manhood training, their relationship changes on both sides. On his side, he often restrains his emotions around her, seeing that as the proper disposition of a man. On her side, she struggles to accept his growing independence. This tension gets ratcheted up further when Kunta takes his little brother Lamin on a gold mining trip against her strong protestations.

But when Kunta and Lamin return, gold dust in hand,

"Binta's and Kunta's faces exchanged a look of tenderness and warmth far beyond the usual greetings that passed between mother and her grown-up son." (31.22)

She and Omoro have raised some amazing sons—sons who love each other and look after one another—and that's something to be proud of.

Although the horror of the slave trade separates her from her eldest, we think she'd be proud knowing that he carried this unyielding love for family with him to a new land.