Mark Mathabane did not write Kaffir Boy with a young audience in mind. As he explains in his preface, he found after he had been in the United States for some time, and as the political situation in South Africa came to the attention of more Americans, that he was asked more and more frequently what it had been like to grow up as a black South African under apartheid. Because few South African black people could become educated enough to write professionally in English, and because the apartheid government would not permit the publication of criticism of itself from within, the voices and stories of black South Africans went unheard. By re-creating his experiences, Mathabane hoped to educate adults in the United States about his native country and inspire them to work for change. Young people are naturally drawn to stories of other young people, however, especially those with emotions and goals similar to their own but in wildly different situations. The story of a young man who pulls himself up through determination and hard work, whose education enables him to find a better life, is an important one for young people.
An important theme in Kaffir Boy is Mathabane’s refusal to reject all white people. Because he is willing from an early age to give individuals a chance to prove themselves—even though so many disappoint him—he is able to find friendship and support beyond his own community. In the dedication to Kaffir Boy, he mentions the white South Africans who helped him and Stan Smith and...
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Kaffir Boy Essay example
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"WARNING: THIS ROAD PASSES THROUGH PROCLAIMED BANTU LOCATIONS, ANY PERSON WHO ENTERS THE LOCATIONS WITHOUT A PERMIT RENDERS HIMSELF FOR PROSECUTION FOR CONTRAVENING THE BANTU (URBAN AREAS) CONSOLIDATION ACT 1945, AND THE LOCATION REGULATION ACT OF THE CITY OF JOHANNESBURG, The above message can be found written on larger-than-life signs staked on every road leading to Alexandra"(Mathabane, 3). The above quote is the first statement of the book just to give a taste of what is to come. Throughout Mark Mathabane's life he lived in what we in the United States would call poverty, but in Africa they call it the underclass. After starting to play tennis he became good enough to be able to move to the United States and escape his underclass…show more content…
Johannes is suddenly forced to be the man of the house at the age of six because his father is in jail. His father in jail was just a constant reminder that Johannes lived in a place where there was unfair punishment for blacks.
Throughout the book we are reminded of the bad social status that Johannes and his family are in. "There won't be any Christmas celebration this year," she (Johannes's mother) said (Mathabane, 39). There could be no Christmas that year because their father was still in jail and they didn't know when or if he would even return. "When Christmas came my mother locked my ailing brother and sister and me inside the house, while she went about the township begging for cookies, Kool-Aid and other foods to keep us alive" (Mathabane, 39). Not only did his mother go out to find something for them for Christmas, she was going out so she could find food for them to eat so they could stay alive. Not far into the story in chapter seven Johannes talks about how the family is begging for money on the streets of the city and are faced with eviction and starvation. His brother and sister were diagnosed with advanced malnutrition. Johannes's father being in jail prevented his mother from having an account at the local grocery store because there was no man of the house. Johannes and his mother are forced to go to Mlothi a garbage dump to find food that the rich white people had thrown away. Instead of finding food one afternoon a baby was