Kaffir Boy: An Autobiography

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  • Topic: Afrikaner, White people, Apartheid
  • Pages : 6 (1965 words )
  • Download(s) : 556
  • Published : October 7, 2011
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Kelly Teague
Kaffir boy: an autobiography: The true story of a Black Youth’s coming of Age in Apartheid South Africa. Mark Mathabane
Copyright: October 7, 1998
Pgs: 354

Growing up as a youth in Alexandra, black ghetto of Johannesburg, where mark was born and lived for eighteen years with hopes of becoming a successful man in a world full of obstacles that would eventually help or destroy him while dealing with the laws of society. He had to endured pain, grief, and sorrow and discovers courage, dedication, and motivation on order to survive the many police raids to revolutionary equality protests. Also becoming a rebellious, who didn’t see the importance of having an education? He discovered early on the pain and suffering is family had to endure at the early stage of life in South Africa’s apartheid. During this time he learned at an early age about the feeling of starvation. He was filled with hatred, confusion, helplessness, hopelessness, anxiety, loneliness, selfishness, and a cynical attitude towards people.

The turning point of his life had come when he accompanied his grandmother to her gardening job in his eleventh year and met a white family that didn’t fit the stereotype of Afrikaners. From this family, he received gifts of books and secondhand clothes. The books he had received are what steered him in the direction of exploring reading and having a true passion of excelling at it. This marked his new beginning in joining the revolts against Bantus’ attempts to place the limits on his life and aspirations; and his place in his South African life. Also during this time the smith family introduced to the sport of tennis and found interest in playing. He saw this as a golden opportunity in leaving behind his ghetto home. At this time he also started to attend school because of his mother’s determination of him going very far with his education. He proved to be an excellent student by coming out as the top student in all his levels of schooling and scoring the highest out of everyone, despite not having the necessary materials needed for class. Here is the time he, actually started to excel in tennis. He was hired at Barclays Bank and was surprised of the fact that he worked alongside his white counterparts. He also found the true passion for tennis which led him to great things. He ended up having white friends that shared the same goals for him. He dreamed of going to the America on a tennis scholarship with the aid of some his close friends and mentors. Being one of the top ranked Kaffir scholars and spoke English better than some Afrikaners could help in his journey into the Promised Land. This book isn’t about his success but, the challenges and adversities he had to overcome as being a youth in Alexandria receiving several offers from various colleges and universities. This was his golden ticket to a new world outside of apartheid back at home, leaving behind his family and friends that supported him to a better future.

Significance of “Kaffir Boy”

“Kaffir” originated from Arabic origin meaning infidel. In South Africa it is used disparagingly by most whites to refer to blacks. It is the equivalent of the term nigger. Mark’s usage of the word is ironic. He doesn’t claim he is a Kaffir in the manner it implies, but as an attempt to reclaim the word queer, wearing the label proudly than allowing one to provoke shame. He wants others to see it as a sign of identity in his hometown.

Main characters:

Mark: perseverance, self-discipline, confidence, loyalty, inquisitive. Mama: loving, strong-willed, hardworking, supportive, and gentle Papa: vicious, lack of self control, abusive, lazy, compassionate Granny: hard-working, stern, supportive, encouraging, and strong-willed Wilfred: helpful, liberal, well-mannered, friendly, and supportive Scaramouche: mentor, stern, gentle, gentle, supportive, and loyal Andre Zietsman: friendly, humorous,...
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