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

by Mark Mathabane

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Student Question

How many different groups of whites are mentioned in "Kaffir Boy"?

Expert Answers

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Essentially there were two major groups of whites in South Africa, the Boers who were settlers from the 17th and 18th Centuries and were of Dutch descent and the English who began to settle in the early 19th Century. These two groups fought in the late 19th Century and into the 20th in what is knows as the Boer Wars. So to add to an already complicated situation between whites and blacks in South African, there was also at the time Kaffir Boy was written, also much strife between the English South Africans and the Afrikaans, who were the descendants of the Boer settlers. Typically the English were known to be less racist (although how much less is debatalbe) than the Afrikaans. This is somewhat reflected in the experiences of Mark in Kaffir Boy. However, there were also many other 'white' Europeans who had immigrated to South Africa for various reasons. Among those reasons were economic or persecution, for example many Jews were able to immigrate to South Africa before the 1930s and there was also a migration of Germans in the early 20th Century for most probably economic reasons.

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