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Kaffir Boy: The True Story of a Black Youth's Coming of Age in Apartheid South Africa (1986)

af Mark Mathabane

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
1,3081514,951 (3.98)26
Belletristik : Südafrika (Republik) ; Biographie
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KAFFIR BOY (a library sale find) has been sitting on my bookshelf for several years, and now I've finally read it. It was a major bestseller in 1986 when it was first published, mainly for its graphic content, I suspect. Because author Mathabane was unflinching in his depiction of the squalid ghetto where he grew up, the eldest of several children in apartheid South Africa where whites ruled with an iron fist to keep the native blacks "in their place." "Kaffir" is the South African equivalent of the n-word, and I was indeed often reminded of the works of Richard Wright, Dick Gregory and James Baldwin, all of whom I read back in my college days. While I absolutely admire Mathabane for what he endured, and how he persevered in his studies (in ill-equipped, substandard schools) and managed to "escape" to the United States on a tennis scholarship, I often felt buried in redundant descriptions of the horrors and indignities of apartheid, and felt some scrupulous editing could have made this an even better book. Googling Mathabane, I found he is now a US citizen and has written a few more books, but for now I'm kinda on the fence as to whether I'll read them. But I am glad I read this one - a real eye-opener on the apartheid system, something that played a prominent part in a favorite Graham Greene novel, THE HUMAN FACTOR. This was a good book though, if a little too long, and I will recommend it highly, especially to anyone curious about the apartheid era.

- Tim Bazzett, author of the memoir, BOOKLOVER ( )
  TimBazzett | Jul 13, 2021 |
Kaffir Boy: The True Story of a Black Youth's Coming of Age in Apartheid South Africa is Mark Mathabane's 1986 autobiography about life under the South African apartheid regime.
  riselibrary_CSUC | Jun 16, 2020 |
The true story of a black youth's coming of age in apartheid South Africa. Mark was raised as the eldest child of a very poor family in the shanties of Alexandra, South Africa. He describes the extreme poverty and crazy life under apartheid- when you never knew when the cops would come to cleanse the neighborhood of people for some infraction and haul them off to jail. Mark's father was a gambler and alcoholic who rarely provided for his family- especially once his wife got a job. Mark's mom and grandmother did all they could to gather the money it took to send him to school Luckily Mark always come out at the top of his class and he ended up going to college in the U.S. ( )
  camplakejewel | Sep 24, 2017 |
Set in South Africa during the dark days of apartheid, Kaffir Boy is the story of Mark Mathabane's life. He lives with his family in a ghetto in Johannesburg, not only in abject poverty, but also in constant fear of police raids. The police roust the black population frequently to verify their "passes," the documents that allow them permission to live and work. Unfortunately, the passes are rarely in order because keeping them clear often requires bribes and also because the rules are completely nonsensical - you need a pass to live in the city, but you first need a nearby job to allow the document that permits you to live there. And you need the pass to get a job, although if you're unemployed, you're not allowed to be issued a pass. Sound ridiculous? It is. It would be merely farcical if the raids didn't involve terrifying children and tossing the meager contents of homes, and if the penalties didn't include being shipped off to tribal reserves or being imprisoned.

I remember apartheid being an issue in the media when I was in high school in the '80s, but I admit I didn't know about the incredible inhumanity of it. As practiced, it sounded like it was possibly more dehumanizing than slavery, and I honestly didn't think such a thing could exist. Mark was subject to "Bantu education," which was the non-compulsory system to prepare black children for their lives of subservience. Faced with few opportunities, he worked as hard as he could at school and also fell into playing tennis, which opened doors to him that he might never have known existed. A meeting with Stan Smith, an American Wimbledon champion and seemingly all-around great guy, led to Mathabane eventually getting a scholarship to go to college in the US, which is where the book ends. He later wrote another memoir, Kaffir Boy in America, which picks up where this one left off. I am curious about it because before leaving South Africa, Mathabane clearly views America as a sort of interracial utopia - which is definitely was not in 1979 (and still isn't today).

I listened to the audio version of the book, which was narrated by Mathabane himself. His speaking voice is beautiful and melodic, and I doubt that anyone else could have done justice to the words in various tribal languages, protest anthems, childhood songs, and snippets in Afrikaans. Some of the events were very difficult to listen to, and I had to take a couple of breaks from it just to regain my equilibrium. But nonetheless, I would recommend it to anyone interested in learning more about what daily life was like under apartheid. ( )
  ursula | Feb 14, 2014 |
I read this for a grad school class in the 1990s, and remember being quite impressed by the author's story of life in South Africa, and his struggles and determination to get out. ( )
  dukefan86 | May 29, 2013 |
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I, as a Christian, have always felt that there is one thing above all about "apartheid" or "seperate development" that is unforgivable. It seems utterly indifferent to the suffering of individual persons, who lose their land, their homes, their jobs, in pursuit of what surely is the most terrible dream in the world. -Albert Luthuli, 1960 Nobel Peace Prize winner

"Rise like Lions after slumber In unvanquishable number- Shake your chains to earth like dew Which in sleep had fallen on you- Ye are many - they are few." -Percy Bysshe Shelley, The Mask of Anarchy

The limits of tyrants are prescriberd by the endurance of those whom they oppress. -Frederick Douglas

Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties. -John Milton
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This book is dedicated to those handful of white South Africans who helped me grow as a human being and a tennis player, and with who, I share the hope of someday seeing a South Africa free of aparthied; and to Stan and Marjory Smith, who believed in me and gave me a new lease on life by providing me with the opportunity to realize my dream. A very special dedication goes to my family and to millions of my black brothers and sisters who still remain slaves in the prison house of apartheid. To them, for teaching me to fight and to be a survivor, I chant, "Amandla! Awethu! (Power is ours!)"; let us not rest until we are free to live in dignity in the land of our birth.
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Warning: This road passes through proclaimed Bantu locations, any person who enters the locations without a permit renders himself liable for prosecution for contravening the Bantu (Urban areas) consolidation act of 1945, and the location regulation act of the city of Johannesburg.
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