Kaffir Boy


Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane

I chose this book because I wanted to know more about the Apartheid regime after reading History in an Hour’s South Africa, and my goodness did I learn a lot!

Words fail to emit from my finger tips when I think of this book. The only way I can describe my experience reading Kaffir boy is to relay the emotions I felt throughout.

When I started reading it I was shocked at the appalling conditions Mark depicted regarding his home, his town and way of life. To say his family lived in poverty is a massive understatement, the Mathabane family along with millions of other families lived as 4th class citizens. Everyday was a quest for survival, fighting starvation, disease and unemployment wearing only rags and sleeping on cardboard at night with the rats.

As I read on and learnt about the treatment of the black community by the ‘whites’ I was angry! I felt as though I was teething with rage that in the 20th century people were still being treated like this!! Just 40 years ago! my rage kept growing as I was subject to account after account of violent experiences, royally unfair classifications and dam right inhumane regard…..his grandmother had to wipe the steps of a bus because Mark had accidently stood on it!

Then, whilst Mark remained calm and collected retelling his enlightening story I was breaking down for him. I was on the tube and I cried when he told of the event that led to thousands of children to be killed, it started as a peaceful student march and it turned into whites massacring black people.  When I learnt that countries around the world were boycotting South Africa’s trade, sports, policies… due to the treatment of their citizen, I was proud and I placed myself among one of these nations and believed that my anger could contribute to the abolishment of this satanic regime.

Finally, as Marks’ life began to ameliorate, I cried again. When he went to school, when he got accepted into a scholarship scheme for secondary school, when he walked out on the tennis court and made history and then finally when his dream came true.

Never have I been so emotionally affected by a book, a true story that is beautifully written. Mark has an amazing gift of retaining his dignity despite the very undignified story he is retelling.  A man that has made history for himself as well as his country and when I feel emotionally stable again I will read another of his many books.

Thank you Mark.

5 star

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