Kaffir Boy: The True Story of a Black Youth's Coming of Age in Apartheid South Africa

by Mark Mathabane

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In Kaffir Boy, what is the author's philosophy? Is it credible? Give a brief analysis.  What support is given in the book?

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Mark Mathabane, the author of Kaffir Boy, believes that a person should behave with strength and determination and stand by his or her own beliefs. His story of life as a black child in apartheid South Africa includes many scenes of poverty and extreme degradation. In one description of his life as a young boy, he is called a fool by other boys for refusing to prostitute himself for food and money, although he is almost starving. He writes,

Throughout all the years I lived in South Africa, people were calling me a fool for refusing to live life the way they did and by doing the things they did. Little did they realize that in our world, the black world, one could only survive if one played the fool, and bided his time.

Mathabane's story lends credibility to his perspective. He refuses to debase himself, as others do, even when starvation seems the only alternative. By the end of the book, through determination and a little luck, he ends up overcoming his harsh circumstances.

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