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Passport to knowledge mark mathabane autobiography

passport to knowledge mark mathabane autobiography
Black Africans weren't even allowed television until ; for the government feared it would plant revolutionary ideas in their heads. Nov 01, Jared rated it it was ok.

On a page of explanation before the narrative begins, Mathabane tells the reader, "In South Africa [the word Kaffir ] is used disparagingly by most whites to refer to blacks. It is the equivalent of the term nigger.

I was called a 'Kaffir' many times. Kaffir Boy tells the story of his life under apartheid, as well as how he escaped South Africa to attend an American university, leaving his family behind.

Mathabane's unwavering honesty is the book's main strength. One section, "The Road to Alexandra," offers a particularly relentless depiction of brutality and squalor. From the first page, Mathabane shows his readers the devastating personal costs of institutionalized racism: Mathabane does not lecture the reader; instead, the details of his story show what happens when racist brutality is made law.

Mathabane does not shrink from relating his own failures, which include hanging out in gangs, battling with his father, and feeling hatred for all white people. Mathabane dwells on his own attitudes in the second half of the book, demonstrating how he overcomes his hatred for whites and learns to judge people as individuals. When Kaffir Boy was published inapartheid was still an official government policy in South Africa.

Most educated people and governments in the rest of the world knew about apartheid in a vague sense, but few knew the full extent of the South African government's stance.

Kaffir Boy: An Autobiography

Mathabane's autobiography thus became an important historical document. Mathabane describes significant events in the history of apartheid that were poorly covered by the Western press, such as the Sharpeville Massacre and the Soweto riots.

Kaffir Boy is an important political work, as well. As Mathabane explains in the preface, his goal in writing the book was to help abolish apartheid. Now that apartheid has ended, the book still serves to demonstrate the horrifying consequences of institutionalized injustice and inequity. Mathabane's autobiography became an international bestseller and was translated into several languages. He won a Christopher Award for his book, an honor presented to writers and others whose work reveals something about the human condition.

Since its publication, Kaffir Boy has become a familiar part of high school and college curricula. Mathabane continues to write about South Africa, as well as his more recent experiences. Kaffir Boy in America: An Encounter with Apartheid is a sequel to Kaffir Boyin which Mathabane describes his life after coming to America and his struggles with American society. His other books include Love in Black and Whiteco-written by Mathabane's white American wife, Gail, about their experiences as an interracial couple; African Womena non-fiction account of his mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother's experiences; Ubuntua fictional thriller set in South Africa; and Miriam's Songthe story of Mark's younger sister Miriam's coming of age amid the violence of apartheid resistance.

Mark Mathabane, born Johannes Mathabane, begins by describing Alexandra, one of the many black shantytowns sometimes called townships created under apartheid. Alexandra is where Mathabane grew up and where most of the book's events take place.

He writes that apartheid laws allow "more than 90 percent of white South Africans go through a lifetime without seeing firsthand the inhuman conditions under which blacks have to survive. Chapter 2 plunges the reader into these conditions, as they occur in Alexandra. One night inthe black Alexandra police, known as Peri-Urban, raid the township. They arrest as many residents as they can, for reasons ranging from not having a pass an internal passport to participating in a gang. Johannes's mother must flee because her pass does not have correct documentation; she leaves the children alone in their house.

Johannes and his sister Florah watch the chaos through a window until their baby brother George gashes his head in a fall. In another raid, Johannes sees black policemen humiliate his father. Though common in Alexandra, these raids strengthen Johannes's deep fear of and hatred toward black police officers and whites in general.

Johannes's father, Jackson, belongs to the Venda tribe, and the family speaks a language called Venda. As Johannes grows up, he begins to question and resent many aspects of his life, including his father's respect for tribal rules.

Johannes talks during a meal, setting off the first of many father-son conflicts over tribal ways. His father is short-tempered and abusive, habits that only intensify in later years. On the other hand, Johannes's mother is a considerate and strong-willed woman.

Late inJohannes's father is arrested and imprisoned because his passbook is not in order. Without his support for almost a year, the family struggles to feed themselves. Johannes's sister Maria is born during this time, making the food scarcity even worse. His mother spends much of her time looking for work or begging for money and food.

Johannes's maternal grandmother contributes some money, but it is not enough and runs out quickly. At one point, the Mathabanes and other black families rummage through a garbage dump, searching for food and household items discarded by whites. Johannes's mother discovers a dead black baby in a box left at the dump.

Jackson returns from prison a bitter man, prone to drinking and gambling. He manages to get his old job back, but he squanders his money and the family still goes hungry. Johannes spends his time with gangs of young boys to avoid troubles at home.

He sees his first film with the gangs; it terrifies him because no one tells him that the images do not depict someone else's real life: He grew up in the black ghetto shantytown of Alexandra, outside of Johannesburg, South Africa, under the oppressive government system known as apartheid.

When Mathabane was seven years old, his mother and grandmother collected enough money to send him to a local school. At the age of fourteen, he learned to play tennis, eventually becoming good enough to gain the attention of star American tennis player Stan Smith, who arranged for Mathabane to receive a scholarship to an American university.

passport to knowledge mark mathabane autobiography

Inhe graduated cum laude from Dowling University, where he was the first black editor of the college newspaper. He then went on to study journalism at Columbia University. At the same time, he began publishing essays about South Africa and apartheid. Inhe published his first autobiography, Kaffir Boywhich won widespread recognition in the United States and Great Britain.

As ofhe continues to write and lecture about racism and South Africa. Additionally, he has established a scholarship fund to provide books and uniforms for school children of the Bovet Primary School in Alexandra, where he and his siblings studied. InJohannes has his first encounter with Christianity. His father hates Christianity; for him it is a white belief system used to oppress black men. Johannes's mother, however, is curious about Christianity, having noticed that Christian black families tend to fare better than those that cling to tribal ways. His father takes the family to an evangelical service to show them that Christianity is foolish.

At the service, the sermon mirrors the white Christian view of South Africa: Several of the black men in the audience, including Johannes's father, denounce the minister and leave.

The scene establishes a persistent conflict between Johannes's parents. His father insists on devotion to the tribal religion and continuously denounces Christianity, while his mother secretly, and later openly, accepts Christianity as a way to improve her family's circumstances. Later that year, Johannes has one of the most frightening experiences of his life. Wandering the streets as he often does, he comes across a group of boys waiting in front of a barracks.

The boys promise him all the food he can eat. When Johannes and the other boys enter the compound, black men greet them and offer food. Johannes notices beds in the back of the room and begins to feel uncomfortable.

passport to knowledge mark mathabane autobiography

He refuses to eat and watches as the others strip and line up near the bed. Johannes panics when he realizes the men intend to have sex with the boys and runs away.

The boys call Johannes a fool for not participating, but Johannes realizes that in "the black world, one could only survive if one played the fool, and bided his time. Mathabane writes that most of the boys involved later end up dead or in prison. Johannes's trip to the Venda tribal reserve with his father is a defining moment in his intellectual development. Johannes's father has lost his job; worrying that witches have cursed him, he seeks help from a tribal witch doctor. The reserve is "mountainous, rugged and bonedry," and the people there lead empty, impoverished lives.

Johannes is particularly struck by the fact that there are nearly no men there; they must go to the cities to work in mines. He decides he would rather die than live on the reserve. Part I ends when Johannes's mother tries to obtain the documents he needs to attend school. This turns out to be a long and humiliating process, one that begins at four in the morning when she walks the younger children to their grandmother's house. She then takes Johannes to the appropriate office, where they stand in line for over twelve hours.

Her first attempt fails because her brother, Piet, gets arrested; she has to use the money she had planned to use for Johannes to secure Piet's release. On her second attempt, the white officer who issues the paperwork decides to take the afternoon off. Her third attempt is thwarted when bureaucrats demand Johannes's birth certificate. A black officer refuses to issue the birth certificate, but a white nurse intervenes. After his mother gets the necessary papers, she tells Johannes that not all white people are bad, but he does not believe her.

Johannes's mother and grandmother collect enough money to send him to school, but Johannes refuses to go because he has heard horror stories about it from other boys. His mother and grandmother have to tie him up and take him to see the principal, who makes it clear that Johannes will be physically punished if he does not go to school. Johannes remains opposed until his drunken father kicks the family out of the house, furious about his children going to school.

passport to knowledge mark mathabane autobiography

He believes tribal education is the only kind that matters—school is just another white man's trick. Johannes's mother explains to Johannes that she is sending him to school because she does not "want [him] growing up to be like [his] father," which shatters Johannes's resistance.

Still, the reality of school is a harsh one. Children crowd into an outside square to listen to long speeches from the principal and the teachers; they are then taken to overcrowded classrooms.

Johannes's teacher is an inexperienced young woman who cannot control her pupils. Frustrated, she goes into a violent frenzy, whipping the children indiscriminately and making Johannes increasingly skeptical about school. Mark's voracious reading teaches him English. With the tennis racket that the Smiths send, Mark starts hitting a ball around at tennis courts in Alexandra. Soon enough he becomes friends with a black tennis player who starts to train him.

passport to knowledge mark mathabane autobiography

Mark joins the high school tennis team and one of the players introduces him to Wilfred Horn, the owner of the exclusive Tennis Ranch. Mark starts playing tennis at the club and Horn becomes his unofficial sponsor, paying for Mark's entrance fees in tournaments.

Mark Mathabane

It is technically illegal for Mark to be playing there, but everybody ignores the rule. The opportunity gives Mark the chance to become comfortable in the world of whites, to recognize his own fundamental equality with them, and to even confront some of the stereotypes circulating about blacks in white society. Inwith the help of Wimbledon champion Stan Smith, Mathabane left South Africa to attend an American university on scholarship. In Mathabane graduated cum laude with a degree in Economics from Dowling College in Oakdale, New York, where he was the first black editor of the college newspaper.

He has been featured in Time, Newsweek and People magazines. InKaffir Boy in America, which continues the story of Kaffir Boy, was published by Scribner's and became a national bestseller following Mathabane's second appearance on Oprah.

InLove in Black and White, a non-fiction book about interracial relationships and race relations in America, co-authored by his wife, Gail, was published by HarperCollins. InMathabane's fourth book appeared -- African Women: Three Generations, which describes the struggles, relationships and triumphs of three South African women who were heroines in Kaffir Boy -- his grandmother, mother and sister Florah.

His first work of fiction, Ubuntu, is a thriller set against the politically and racially tense backdrop of post-apartheid South Africa. His second novel, The Proud Liberal, tells the story of how a political candidate's daughter thwarts the deadly plans of domestic terrorists in North Carolina. The movie based on Kaffir Boy is set to begin filming in the fall of in Alexandra, South Africa. Mark continues to lecture and be involved with his charity, the Magdalene Scholarship Fund, which pays for books, school fees and uniforms for students at Bovet School in Alexandra, South Africa.

His website is www. Are You an Author?

Kaffir Boy

Help us improve our Author Pages by updating your bibliography and submitting a new or current image and biography. Showing 10 Results Books: Low to High Price: High to Low Avg. The two parties later merged to become the Nationalist Party. The new legislation classified people into racial groups such as blacks, coloreds, Indians and whites. Residential areas were separated as well as work areas. This often time caused difficulty for many blacks because their families were allocated into different races.

In blacks were no longer allowed to legally obtain their citizenship. Education, healthcare, beaches, and other public services were separated by legal means. The resources were often inferior to those of the whites.

These groups were later split into further racial federations. The first passed apartheid law was The Population Registration Act of It legally formalized the using of racial classification cards. These were called a dumbas dumb pass in Afrikans. Blacks were required to have these as well as permit.

Without one black could be persecuted and put on trial. Apartheid caused for trade embargoes in South Africa as well as violence. The government often times responded with state supported violence and increasing repression. During the Apartheid movement, there were many influential leaders that worked hard to discontinue it. Nelson Mandela was one of the most famous Africans who spent 27 years in prison for his leadership against the struggle of apartheid, and later became president. Steve Biko was the founder of the Black Consciousness movement, which was designed to raise black self-awareness and the unification of black students.

The issues of Apartheid were very serious and it took a group of determined people to bring an end to it.

passport to knowledge mark mathabane autobiography

The beginning of the apartheid was only the start of struggles for different races in South Africa. The way he thinks is to be successful in this world is to relate to the whites and the world they control.

passport to knowledge mark mathabane autobiography

Throughout the book you see Mark set his own path and future through education and sports. In the end Mark overcomes the South African system and gets a scholarship to college in America instead of working dead end jobs in South Africa.

Fear is probably the main theme in this book. Mark had a fear of whites and a fear of police. Once Mark learned that some white are kind he dominated in education and on in the tennis world. The kids that did not overcome their fears ended up in violence, guns, and carrying passes all their lives and living the reality of apartheid. In Kaffir Boy race defies where you live, what kind of education you get, and what kind of job you will receive.

Race keeps blacks from escaping poverty in the ghettos and to ever become equal with whites. The 5 th theme I saw was Religion. Christianity was portrayed as negative and positively in the book.

He even abused the wife because he thought she was changing sides on him. The book my group read was Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane.

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