Devika Koppikar's Reviews > Kaffir Boy: The True Story of a Black Youth's Coming of Age in Apartheid South Africa

Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane
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Dec 04, 13

it was amazing
Read in April, 2011

** spoiler alert ** One of the best books I’ve ever read. I can’t stop talking about it to my friends and family.

It is written with so much wisdom and zeal, that the reader experiences Mathabane’s life journey almost firsthand.

Kaffir Boy takes you to the cold ground of apartheid. Mark tells you exactly what poverty was like growing up and in a society where unfair laws were the norm. In this book, the reader learns:

• How exactly longterm starvation feels. For example, he discusses how he and his siblings would often ate their own mucus.

• How ambiguous apartheid laws were, where the government required black people to carry “passes,” yet they could not miss work to update the passes, whilst the passbook offices were closed on work days.

• How they had no choice but to survive with extremely limited resources, like when Mark’s sister wrote school notes on a broken slate.

Nevertheless, while good fortune played a major role in Mathabane’s success, he had an incredible sense of willpower:
• He vowed not to have sex until he had finished with his studies; And, after reading Kaffir Boy in America, I wouldn’t be surprised if he waited until marriage.
• His perseverance in studying and making good grades
• His courage to befriend white people in order to help him succeed.

Every chapter of the book is thoroughly reflected upon…for example, when he expresses his opinion on the role of the Christian religion in South Africa versus the sustenance of tribal religions.
The book is an intense saga…and I cried at the end when he packed up and said goodbye to his family and drove off to the airport to go to America.

I found out about this book through a temporary job I’m doing at a high school…and am excited to learn that this is required reading in some high schools.

I hope I get to meet Mathabane one of these days. He’s seems like a gem of a person!
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