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on June 15, 2004
I have come a to rare realization. I think back to my years at Asbury Park High School and how there was little to no educated reading of books by or of black people, which I think is strange now as Asbury Park was a mostly black town. It wasn't until I eventually got to a black university that I learned more and more of my heritage, black history and what could become a black future.
Oh, as good as they were, I read "The Crucible," "The Pearl," "Of Mice and Men," etc. in Asbury Park, but not until Norfolk State U. did I even know "Kaffir Boy" existed. And what a travesty! I know all about white history and such. Someone asked me the other day how I even heard of a group called "Frankie Goes To Hollywood." Because when I was growing up in the 80's, everything on MTV was white. I had never met a Chinese person except the goof in high school who got voted "Class Clown." My favorite television show was "Tales of the Gold Monkey," a show with no black characters. A great deal of black life, especially literature, is lost on today's youth because it was lost on yesterday's youth.
Why were we spared the turmoil of Mark Mathabane's childhood? His oppression by evil soldiers who shared the darkness of his skin tone, as they forced him to practically dance in feces? His needs, yearns for a better life studying tennis at the tutledge of a kindly white sponsor? His fright at unexpected and often raids on his poor village by storm troopers ripe with power and arrogance yet bereft of dignity and compassion? Why didn't anyone tell me of this book when I was 15? Because if we're aware of the evils of the world when we are young, there will be unlimited resources for us to change it in the future.
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on May 4, 2004
The autobiography "Kaffir Boy" by Mark Mathabane is a very engrossing and vivid novel. Mark Mathabane encountered hardships in his life that most of the people in this world cannot even imagine. Apartheid laws in South Africa affected the lives of all the black families in both their public and private lives. Mark Mathabane grew up in society where apartheid was in total effect. The gruesome experiences that Mathabane faced were sometimes too much to bear. However, with the support of his loving mother and grandmother, Mathabane succeeded in his education by being the top in his class. Aware of the unjust laws of apartheid, Mark Mathabane was determined to somehow make a change in the community he lives in. His passion for tennis was what helped him change his life. Even with all the obstacles in his life, Mathabane hopes to be able to study in America with a tennis scholarship. With hard work and perseverance his dreams came true eventually.
"Kaffir Boy" is a very inspiring novel to everyone that is ambitious and hopeful. I learned so much through reading Mark Mathabane's autobiography. There is always hope and there is nothing impossible in this world, as long as we never give up in what we want to succeed in. With no doubt in mind, this novel is outstanding and worth it.
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on May 1, 2004
I recently read "Kaffir Boy" by Mark Mathabane, a true interesting autobiography story base of the brutal horror laws of Apartheid in South Africa and about Mr. Mathabane struggles and enthusiasm to overcome his dream, to be someone in life. I was sock, when I was reading this book for all the unjust laws that were apply to black Africans. Mr. Mathabane shows us the atrocities he lived through his childhood and his family in Alexandra, South Africa. First of all, he show us how non-whites were threaded like un-human beings, discriminated by whites, poverty among black community, lock of freedom, starvation, living in small shakes, and not having equal rights. I was so unaware of the hardships that black South Africa was living. I admired Mr. Mathabane for his encouragement of seeking a better life. Although he was living difficult circumstances with his family and having endless struggles to accomplish his goal, he was able to accomplish his dream such as, finishing school with a high gpa and obtaining a scholarship to study tennis in America and have freedom. Also, for never being led by bad influence, to always having his mind in continuing progressing in life. This incredibly interesting book had open my eyes to a new world that I had never knew it existed. He changes my point of view of never give up my dreams, always fight to succeed. This book really got into me, I couldn't put the book down once I was reading it and I did not even notice I was already reading the last page. I really recommend this book to all people that want to have knowledge of an important history of South Africa. If you want to know an incredible person that did everything to accomplish his goal, you should read this incredible book. I'm sure you'll like it!
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on March 17, 2004
he book "Kaffir Boy" not only captures the real life hardships that occurred in South Africa under the Apartide, but it is also a great story of success and avercoming all adversity. The Story is told from the perspective of Mark Mathabane when he is a young boy all the way up until he is a fully grown man. Mark Mathabane in his autobiography tells the story of what it is like to overcome true poverty in this story which at many times is sad and depressing, while at other times can make one laugh and smile. While reading this book one will go through a roller coaster of emotions, which will make you never weant to put down this book.
The main reason I liked this book was because of the perspective it was told in, which is of course the first person perspective. What this does for the book is it make it very belivable, because you know that everything that happened in the book is true and it wasn't just though up by some author who never experienced what South Africa was really like. And the other this this does for the book is it maked is so much more detailed. Mark Mathabane make is so that the readon knows almost every detail so you can better understand the situation that is occuring in the novel. I belive the only bad thing about this book would be that some of the scenes in the book seemed like they were un-needed. One example of this would be the part of the book where a raping occures, and there are many other scenes like this in the book. But what I think Mark Mathabane is trying to do is just to help the reader better understand the situation he was in. In closing I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is trying to learn about South Africa uner the Apartide because the book gives you a really great understanding of what it was really like.
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on March 14, 2004
Kaffir Boy is set in South Africa during apartheid in the 1960's; it is an autobiography of the life of Mark Mathabane who tells the ups and downs of his life. The story begins with a bang as the SAP (South African Police) journey uninvited into Mark's house looking for his parents to check his passport. This happens many times throughout the book and Mark begins to adapt it as a well of everyday life. Mark also encounters poverty when his father is arrested for not having his passport in order. His family results to near starvation for months until his grandmother is able to help them get back on their feet until Mark's father returns from prison. Mark's next step lands him in school, although his father is completely bent against him going his mother is able to provide for his education. Mark ends up being at the top of his class and gets a scholarship to a college. He begins to pick up tennis and plays with more white players around the world; he begins to idolize Arthur Ashe and watches one of his matches. Mark ends up being a class act tennis player and making friends with several white people. At the end of the book Mark changes as a person, he didn't like whites at the beginning but learned that all whites were not bad and he also felt like he had completed all his goals coming out of a ghetto.
The reason I give the book 4 of 5 stars is really the length and content of the book. I feel as though more information then necessary was given sometimes. I see where Mark was coming from though, trying to give the raw details of the ghetto so readers from a suburban neighborhood would understand what it was like in the 1960's but I also feel like some of the mentioned material was much too explicit. Mark was able to catch my attention though and no other book before has been able to do that, it is a great autobiography to say the least. I recommend it to readers 16 years old and above and anybody with a lot of free time on their hands.
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on January 2, 2004
This is apartheid through the lucid eyes of a young, intelligent black boy. It seems more authentic perhaps because it is not seen through white lens, because although many white South Africans may have detested apartheid, they could not have felt it like the black South Africans did.
This book makes one wonder why movies like CRY FREEDOM lionized a white South African while over-looking the thousands of everyday heroes in the black community. People who lived from day to day under a system that saw them as sub-human, as unworthy of simple common decency.
The prose is fluid and immediate and the story is, thankfully, full of a pure, beautiful human anger and a keen desire to truthfully reflect a devastated people and community. Mathabane does not shy away, either, from indicting the black elite in addition to the white oppressors.
This book is an example of The System overcoming The Person. Sometimes it is impossible for that 'pulling yourself up by your bootstraps' idea to work because in many ways, we can excel largely only as much as the system under which we live allows us to. Also, a system can, by depriving people of dignity, turn them, like Mathabane's father and thousands of other black men, into the Living Dead.
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on September 15, 2003
Great words. Wonderful plot. Awesome characterization. All of these things can be found in Mark Mathabanes exciting autobiography, Kaffir Boy. This autobiography combines the vileness of South African apartheid and one young lad?s struggle for freedom with astonishing results. Kaffir Boy takes an aggressive look into the wickedness of apartheid and the ravishing affects it can take on the future in an engaging manner that lures the reader into the plot.
Within Kaffir Boy, the plot blossoms through magnificent character development, guided by Mark. The story is encapsulated within an autobiography format- as the characters grow, so does the plot- as shown when Mark first realizes apartheid, and the detrimental effect it has on black society. By showing this truth, the reader has the opportunity to look into the world of a black South African drowning in the havoc of apartheid. The honest viewpoint shared an unbiased hope of life that kept the reader hooked. Along with this, Mark and his family build on to the story with details from daily life and family tradition. It really opened up a new viewpoint of world cultures as I felt myself being drawn into the characters lives, struggles and achievements. The character development in Kaffir Boy was a flawless, exciting addition to this book.
Along with character development, Mark's true life story unfurls through the plot a wicked twist on your feelings, emotions and beliefs that will make your morals shout out from the sidelines. The events in this book that I liked the least were the racism shown to the blacks in South Africa. The ways blacks were treated throughout this work really gave me a culture shock. Although the white's actions were horrible, Mark's actions and the persistent drive behind them shone like a candle in the night, as a hero in a sorrow filled world. The event that I liked the best was when Mark was freed of the bonds of apartheid through his talents and hard work, the theme was shown strongly through his actions and I admire his die-hard attitude. Also, the motif was very encouraging and kept me hooked. The plot of Kaffir Boy was exciting and will keep any reader thirsting for more.
So is Kaffir Boy a bright work or boring bummer? I encourage you to read this fabulous book and decide for yourself. Kaffir Boy astonished me with new viewpoints and aspects within the menacing world of apartheid. Make sure you add this five- star choice to your bookshelf- Kaffir Boy.
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on March 21, 2003
According to the author, white South Africans all lived in mansions, drove Rolls-Royces and Mercedes, had herds of black servants treated worse than slaves, white children which had never seen black school children before etc etc. Mrs. Smith was buying for her son bicycles, roller blades, ping-pong tables and other stuff (all plural), which would requre storage space size of Walmart! Get real! I visited South Africa many times in 1970's, 80's and 90's and I can say that "Kaffir Boy" is another propaganda tool aimed at ignorant Americans. Author has his agenda, himself being the white-hater he is attempting to shape the public opinion in similar fashion.
He is suspended in vacuum between the dead end street of tribalism (whatever happened to "when we were kings" idea - in the book his fater and his tribe are morons), and the world built by the white people he is longing for and hating at the same time.
America of 1970's is shown as the promised land of equal opportunities for the blacks. It's 2003 now and the blacks still don't think so and there are cries for more affirmative action and never ending government handouts.
Love this book if you are a heart bleeding liberal, but if you have any common sense, frequent inconsistiencies should be easy to spot. No doubt that the policy of racial segregation in South Africa was wrong and cruel, but this book is not a true story it claims to be. It's a mix of truth, lies and imagined fiction. It's meant to be the author's revenge, just like Jerzy Kosinski's "Painted Bird", which at the time of it's publication was a believable and true story, until dismissed years later as bunch of lies and garbage.
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on March 7, 2003
Kaffir Boy was an inspirational read that motivated me and has since influenced my life. My reading this book made me interested in South Africa and helping the people there. The images in this true story were horrific and make me want to change the world. I have dreamt of going to South Africa and helping ending the discrimination.
The story of a South African family and their life living through Apartheid was very deep and put my emotions into the pages I read. It covers the issues of Apartheid, laws against blacks and the personal story of a boy growing up embedded in these horrors. The boy, Mark, is a strong character with a great deal of determination to get out of South Africa and make something of himself. He sees his parents give in to the police and not stand up for themselves. He refuses to get sucked into the dismay of Apartheid and the atrocities the authorities have put them through.
Mark's grandmother helps mark through school by teaching him the things she has learned on her own and arranges for him to get the money for school supplies, books and appropriate clothing. She arranged for him to meet the family of her employers, where he eventually learned to play tennis and meets Stan Smith. Through this connection, he is able to go to America and go to college on a tennis scholarship.
This story is much more complex than the outlying shape of the plot. It leaves a scar on every reader who experiences the horrible phenomenon of Apartheid. It gives a real sense of the constant terror these people live with, the atrocities they face every day of their life and the undying dream of freedom they all share.
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on March 19, 2002
Kaffir Boy
Mark Matherbane has had many up's and down's throughout his young childhood. He went through beatings and fights, up to schools and scholarships. There are many African black people being mistreated every day of there life in the South African city, Alexandria.
In South Africa, black people are being treated very poorly every day of there life's by white people in the story, "Kaffir Boy." There are many young boys in South Africa. But Mark Matherbane was a very unique kid who had a dream, and set his mind and heart to accomplish it. His world was very tuff and treated him very unfairly. He took care of his family the best of his ability at such a young age.
There was a family of five who lived in the deep heart of Alexandria. There family was starving and poor. They had no money. Mark was so young and almost hitting death of starvation, he pulled out of it. This shows that if you set a dream or a goal, and you try hard enough to reach it, it will always come true.
There are many things that have happened to Mark throughout his life. Mark fought with his father every day when he was growing up. I also get in a lot of arguments with my parents. He wanted to kill his father he was so mad. I would never go that far. Mark had two things that he was good at that brought him through life. It was his tennis career, that he was so good at, and his education. His talent mad him become friends with many different whites. In the end Mark did overcome all of his obstacles and reach his goal. He got his scholarship and went to America.
I would recommend it to young adults over 15 years of age. Only people who want to know the truth about how black people where treated in South Africa by whites and all others. Ignoring all of the gross stuff, the book was very good and I would give it four stars. I don't read many books, but this one was excellent.
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