Book Report: Kaffir Boy By Mark Mathabane

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Author Biography

Mark Math bane was born October 18, 1960, in Alexandra, a very dark ghetto just out-of-doors Johannesburg, South Africa. His parents gave him an official Afrikaans title, Johannes, and a tribal title, Thanasi (''the shrewd one''). As a child, he lived in an unheated two-room shack where the children slept under the kitchen table on makeshift beds of newspaper and cardboard. There was no electricity, no running water, no sewers or inside toilets. The family suffered from bitter freezing and hunger. They dwelled in constant worry of brutal policeman man raids designed to enforce apartheid (the legalized segregation of blacks and whites) through intimidation and violence. At five, as the caretaker of his junior siblings during his parents' nonattendance, Math bane was often forced to roam the ghetto for nourishment and an outlet from boredom. Unfortunately, nourishment was scarce, often nonexistent, while boredom could easily, often unsafely, be alleviated. Only his keen intellect and superb athletic abilities endowed him to survive. During the Soweto riots of 1976, he took the name assess Math bane (and later, Pierre assess Math bane), in alignment to disguise his persona from the white South African government.


The Road to Alexandra

Part 1 of Kaffir Boy begins in the predawn of a bitterly freezing winter day in 1965 with the five-year-old Johannes Math bane lying aroused, terrified by nightmares. After his father departs for work and his mother for the community outhouse, he finally declines asleep. Within instants, his nightmare becomes truth when Peril-Urban, the Alexandra Police Squad, makes one of its unannounced raids. His mother falls back into the house, awakens Johannes, and enlists him in a serene but frantic request for her passbook (apartheid guidelines require that every very dark one-by-one in South Africa express an item encompassing his or her image, title, address, tribal source, work and marital status). Once it is found out, she afresh falls out of the house—this time in seek of a hiding place. Johannes is left solely with full blame for his three-year-old sister and one-year-old brother. The next evening Peril-Urban comes back, this time raiding the Math bane home. His mother conceals in a little, locked wardrobe, but Johannes is compelled to observer his father's emotional emasculation as he is taunted and pulled half-naked out of the house. Along with dozens of other ones, he is handcuffed, taken away in a convoy of motor trucks, and compelled to spend two months managing hard work on a white man's potato ranch for his past crimes—all because he could not pay for to yield his experiment levy or his tribal levy, neither did he have the cash to bribe the policeman man officer. In 1966, Johannes's father is one time afresh arrested—this time for unemployment—and imprisoned for nearly a year. During his father's nonattendance, Johannes's mother labors to hold her family fed but can only yield for one meager assisting of nourishment a day. When the landlord intimidates to evict her, she demands to ...
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