Boy is the life story of Mark Mathabane while living in the apartheid of South
Africa. His story goes into great
details about how it was like to grow up in the environment that he lived in.
Our group, which has five people, all did our responsibilities by
composing a written piece for each section of this web page so that it will be
easy for you ( viewer of web page ) to read a few things about our book and
what kind of experience we had while reading it.
We hope that you will decide to read this book for yourself and compare
your thoughts with ours.
Mathabane's Kaffir Boy is a powerfully moving story about his
childhood and teenage years living in the apartheid of South Africa. His
family was poor and struggled to survive day by day while living in a
shantytown which had shacks and only a few decent houses, called Alexandra.
Even though it was hell living there, the people put up with it because it was
the only place they can work and were allowed to stay at besides the tribal
reserves. The tribal reserves were barren pieces of land where nobody can
produce much for their family because of poor land structures, no electricity,
and lack of other necessities needed to live a close-to-normal life.
had a somewhat terrible childhood. He had a no-good father who was an
alcoholic and gambled away most of his earnings instead of using it to buy
food for his growing family. He also grew up witnessing crimes such as a man
being gutted by tsotsis*, viewing violent crimes like his mother
getting beaten up by his father and etc. Fortunately, his mother cared about
him and his siblings enough to work bent over backwards to send her children
to school. She wanted them to get an education so that they can have a secure
future. As a child, Mathabane learned how to play tennis and developed a love
for the game. He also had a dream of leaving South Africa and going to America
for college and to get away from the life in Alexandra. He strived to fulfill
his dreams by working hard and taking chances in life to get to where he got.
black gangsters of the fifties and early sixties in the mode of the Mafia
first passage in Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane that caught my attention
and made me see a point that the author was trying to make in this book was on
say it so confidently," he said. "What makes you so sure? What if
you never go anywhere outside Alexandra for the rest of your life?"...
"okay, philosopher," he said. "May I ask how you plan to travel
around the world? Not in a time machine, I hope."... "Why is it you
want to go places?" he said. "Aren't you happy with the way your
life is turning out right here in Alexandra?"
this passage, Johannes's teacher is talking to Johannes about all his hard
work and his goals for the future. This paragraph was interesting because it
got me thinking about how bad the teachers were back then. Johannes's own
teacher was encouraging him not to reach for his goals or try at all, because
he's not going to get anywhere anyway. This is depressing and these people are
very bad influences on Johannes and all the other children they taught. I
wouldn't be surprised to know that most of the children did not do well in
school because of all the discouragement from the teachers. I also
congratulate Johannes for still learning, reading and reaching for his
goals--even after all those people telling him that all he is doing is
second passage is on the last page and it lets the reader exhale finally after
all the tension, thought and confusion:
told him never to let the white man define his manhood. I told him to be a
fighter, to be resilient, to have patience, to have hope, to take care of our
ailing mother, our sisters and out father, whom I sensed he was beginning to
hate just as I had done when his age. Déjà vu.
Papa," I told him. "He's a good and loving father inside. Learn to
understand him and his ways. Learn to understand the pain of his life."
was the most imperious passage in the book because it showed how Johannes
finally became one with himself and finally understood where his father was
coming from. It gave him closure. In this paragraph Johannes is about to leave
for America and is giving his little brother George a few tips to try to make
his life a little easier. Also, this passage gives a sense of relief to the
reader. Reading this book, it feels as if you are Johannes and you are the one
going through all those trials and tribulations. Then when he finally forgives
his father and has no more worries and obstacles in his way, it feels as if
you have been holding your breath all the while and you were just told you may
last very important point that the author is making through his writing has to
do with two different passages. The first one is on page 199:
off this bus, Kaffir!" thundered the red-necked white driver. "Don't
you see this is a white bus!"
the tragic mistake I had committed, I tried to fly off the bus, but I could
not. ...But reality came in the venom the white bus driver was spitting as he
reached for the side door to come after me. "I said get off the bus
bloody bus, Kaffir!"...Thinking that anytime I would be kicked in the
face by the white bus driver, I started begging for mercy.
mei baas," I whimpered, "Sorry, mei baas. Me make big mistake.
Forgive me, mei baas. This Kaffir did not know bus for white people."
the second one is on page 277-278:
more I had befriended a white man who didn't fit the stereotype. How many more
of his kind were out there? ..."Do you still want us to play
was a white man asking me instead of ordering me. Yes, I would play with him.
if you like," he said enthusiastically, "we can sometimes play at
Ellis Park or other tennis courts in the city."
that's against the law," I said
hell with the law," he said angrily. "I do what I want to do. I
don't believe in apartheid laws, I told you. You're my friend, just like any
other white friend I have."
these two passages I believe that the author is trying to prove that even
though there were many cruel white people who were for apartheid, there were
also a few white people who were against the apartheid laws. In the first
passage, Johannes accidentally stepped onto the whites only bus and almost got
himself and his grandmother arrested. Then there were many events where
Johannes spent hours and hours with the other type of white people and he was
treated as a human being instead just a Kaffir. In the second passage,
Johannes is talking to his white tennis-playing friend Andre and through this
one conversation, you can see that not all white people are the same.
author, Mark Mathabane, wrote this whole book to show the world the
ruthlessness of the white people and their apartheid laws in Africa--but he
knew that not all white people were like that, so he showed this through his
writing. Kaffir Boy taught and showed many ideas. It opened eyes all
over the world and is a very inspiring book.
of all the books ever read by my fellow classmates and I, we unanimously
agreed that Kaffir Boy was the most captivating one yet. Recently my
fellow group mates and I spent five weeks reading and discussing your
astounding work in Kaffir Boy. Your story gives the public a true
understanding of apartheid that no author ever dared express.
true trick to writing a good book is telling a story from the heart. In your
book, the pain, the fear, and the struggles create a sense of realism in our
eyes. The fact that this is how life in South Africa really was, and that
people were treated so cruelly and inhumanly only encourages the readers to
keep reading and not put the books down. Authors who can give their readers a
reason to read their books all the way through are the true successful
writers. I applaud your efforts and success in trying to make your voice heard
and the horrors of apartheid seen realistically in this world where people
know so little about the subject. It must have taken great efforts to write Kaffir
Boy considering how you could have been killed for doing so.
it is understandable why you used the intense descriptions in Kaffir Boy
to get your point across, I would not have done it to that extent.
Unfortunately, schools have banned Kaffir Boy because of the obscene
words and descriptions. This is a great loss because the youths of today will
not have the chance to read and experience the feelings of apartheid. In the
future, someone might want to write a revised version of Kaffir Boy so
today's youth will have the opportunity, as I did, to learn the realism of
this cruel time in history. The more we know about such things, the less
chance we have of history repeating itself with another era of apartheid.
you for sharing your life with the world. I guarantee that my life is not the
same after reading Kaffir Boy. Thanks to your efforts the world will
have a little more grasp on reality and less racial intolerance.
An Outstanding Book
is a very rare book because it is one of only a few books which discusses
apartheid and black South African life from the perspective of a black boy
growing up in the 70's. Throughout the book there are many sections in which
the text contains graphic scenes, which may be too much for the reader who is
faint of heart. In one scene black children, ages ranging from seven to
fourteen are prostituting. Mathabane describes the children slowly undressing
to please the men in order to earn a few measly coins in order to survive.
There is also a scene in the book in which the main character, Mark Mathabane
himself, witnesses the death of an innocent man as he is hiding in a near by
bush. By writing the story in first and second person Mathabane appeals to
those readers who like to feel involved with reading and the characters.
Mathabanes method helps the reader get a visual of the text and it gives a
reader who isn't squeamish more of an impact.
has many strong sections in which he describes his dreams of someday becoming
free and going to America where he can follow his dreams and be successful.
Many readers can be captivated by his strong will and throughout the book
Mathabane tried to make the reader recognize his or her own goals and dreams.
The reader could also relate to the dysfunctional families and the way the
author described his life makes the reader feel as if they are a part of the
family angering the reader and letting the emotions flourish making them
involved as a part of the family. Kaffir Boy is recommended to those
readers who enjoy books similar to autobiographies. Overall this book is
filled with excitement and isn't one that could be easily set down.
Mark Mathabane is an actual autobiography of the author's life. Throughout the
book, Mathabane takes the opportunity to describe in details, the situations,
and circumstances that his family lived in. This book has some complex
vocabulary words that make it a little difficult for some people to
understand. It also has very explicit and graphical ways of describing certain
scenes. However, people, especially students, should have knowledge of what
others went through because of their skin color. That is one reason why Kaffir
Boy should be taught in schools. Teachers should take advantage of this
situation and teach their students about racial problems that existed long
before we were born. Kaffir Boy is by far the best book that may be
used as an example for students because it talks about actual events of a
person's life. Students should be exposed to true stories like Kaffir Boy
where they can learn something, rather than science fiction stories which do
nothing else but pollute the minds of young readers.
school districts forbid schools to permit students to read Kaffir Boy
because of a few scenes, then they are shutting off a great path for students
to fill their minds with true facts. They should not ban this book in schools
just because it contains a few graphical passages. Instead, they should focus
on those passages and the passages that follow so that students would know, in
this case, how white people treated blacks.
Mark Mathabane tries to say in his book is that everyone around the world
should recognize racism. It is still a problem in our society today. Thus, if
people start recognizing that all humans -whether black or white- are equal,
and put an end to useless things such as racism, then everyone would have
something less to worry about.
parts of the story focus on the way white people tormented and killed the
black people because of their color. Students should read and learn about
these things so that they will know that what their ancestors did was wrong
and cruel, and hopefully, they will not repeat these malicious acts. They
should know what a big role racism played in peoples' lives. Thus, by allowing
teachers to let their students read Kaffir Boy, we will accomplish many
of our goals. The best part of all is that the story the author talks about is