Regarding characterization, Marks' qualities (his characterization) allow him to overcome his plight. If he did not possess all the wonderful traits he possesses, he may not have been able to escape his situation.
The story is told from a first person narrator, namely, Mark Mathabane. The entire story is his autobiography.
The first person narrative voice means that we as readers are receiving the story much in the same way we would hear a story from a friend. We learn about Mark's thoughts, words, and actions. We only hear about other character's thoughts and words by way of Mark. The first person narrative voice allows the author to show an up close and personal look at life in Alexandra. The narrative voice helps the author achieve his purpose of telling a tale about a man who has overcome adversity and escaped an oppressive political system. If the story were told from a different narrative perspective, such as the third person narrative voice, readers may not feel as connected to Mark's story. Readers may not feel as though they were in Mark's shoes, as they likely do while reading the story as it stands.
The first person narrative is effective in that it places us in the narrator’s shoes. We only have access to her/his thoughts and what she/he observes. We feel as though the narrator is a friend relating a story to us. The first person narrative allows readers to see directly into a character’s mind. The first person narrator makes the story more personal.
In contrast, the third person omniscient narrative is effective in that it gives the reader access to the thought, feelings, actions, and expressions of all the characters in the story. This gives the reader a view of the action that they could not get from a first person narrative. The third person omniscient narrative perspective provides more information than what we are used to having access to in our daily lives. If this story were told from the third person omniscient perspective, the story would create a vastly different impression on the reader.