Kaffir Boy Passbooks

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“Black people had to map out their lives, their future, with the terror of the police in mind. And that that terror led to the hunger, the loneliness, the violence, the helplessness, the hopelessness, the apathy and the suffering with which I was surrounded.” The police raided the shantytowns looking for blacks who did not have their "passbooks" in order. Under the laws of apartheid a passbook was similar to a passport and all blacks were required to carry them. They were also required to keep these books "in order" or up to date, which was virtually impossible for many of these people. To keep them in order they had to go to offices with every official paper they had ever been given. Many times they would wait in lines for hours just to be sent home again to get a different paper. This was not viable for the blacks to do because it would involve missing days of work. This would usually result in termination. The police eventually come across the Mathabane family's shack and demand that he open the door. When he hesitated, not wanting them to catch his mother without her papers in order, they beat him. Soon after this raid, his father is laid off from work and, unable to get a permit, he is arrested for being unemployed. His father is subsequently sent away for a year while his family nearly starves to death. This bundle of papers not only effected the lifestyles of African families, but also could inevitably decide whether they live or die. Mathabane says in chapter 18, “…I, too, would be required to possess the odious pass, which had to be in order at all times. And the chances of it being in order were nil, for I knew that, as with my father, the authorities would always find something wrong with my pass” In our day and age bureaucratic documents are needed in similar cases, for instance, enrolling in school, but not having them in order does not result in the same serious and long changing effects.
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