Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane

Even though I had heard the term "Apartheid", I wasn't quite familiar with what it was, where it occurred or when it took place. If Kaffir Boy was written purely as an historical account, I couldn't have gotten through it, but because it was told as a true story from the author himself, that definitely helped keep my attention throughout.

Kaffir Boy was definitely an eye-opener for me, and there were moments when it was hard to digest and believe that these things actually happened to someone and that even at his age of 4 years old in the beginning of the story, he could remember so many details! My friend Julie had chosen it for our book club (a couple months back - yes, I'm JUST now getting around to finishing it) and I thought it was a great choice for us ladies. It's not something I would have picked up on my own and at times it was a struggle to get through only cause it covered so many years of this man's life. Coming in at 368 pages it was a bit too drawn out for my liking, but I was nonetheless fascinated and at the end desiring to find out what happened to Mark once he arrived in the U.S. and what the transition into college and American culture was like for him.

There is a sequel to this story that was published in 1990 where Mark tells of life since arriving in the U.S. at age 18 on a tennis scholarship and the struggles he faced in becoming the man he is today. The book is called Kaffir Boy in America and I'll be adding it to my ever-growing TBR list.

Description: Mark Mathabane was weaned on devastating poverty and schooled in the cruel streets of South Africa's most desperate ghetto, where bloody gang wars and midnight police raids were his rites of passage. Like every other child born in the hopelessness of apartheid, he learned to measure his life in days, not years. Yet Mark Mathabane, armed only with the courage of his family and a hard-won education, raised himself up from the squalor and humiliation to win a scholarship to an American university.

This extraordinary memoir of life under apartheid is a triumph of the human spirit over hatred and unspeakable degradation. For Mark Mathabane did what no physically and psychologically battered "Kaffir" from the rat-infested alleys of Alexandra was supposed to do -- he escaped to tell about it.

Rating: *** (only cause it was so long, had it been shorter I would have given it 4 stars)

Recommend: There are parts where I would definitely say is more appropriate for an adult audience, but yes I would still recommend if you're not familiar with apartheid in South Africa.

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