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

by Mark Mathabane

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Topics for Further Study

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  • Research the American writer Richard Wright author of Black Boy. What themes and subject matter dominate his work? When and why did he write? In what ways are his themes and subject matter similar to Mathabane's? Write a comparative review of the themes and subject matter of each book.
  • The 1980s were often characterized by political controversy concerning international financial investments and involvement in South Africa. Research the role of the United States in this controversy. Find out why many American college students led protests calling for divestment of American holdings in South Africa. Write the opening statement for the affirmative side of a debate in favor of U.S. economic divestment in South Africa in the year 1986.
  • Research the student protests that took place in Soweto and Alexandra, South Africa, in June of 1976. Why did the students loot and burn the schools? What specific books does Mathabane tell us in chapter 44 of Kaffir Boy he risked his life to save? Make an annotated list of three or four books you would be willing to risk your life to save. Explain why you think they are books that all students should read.
  • Research the action and findings of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Exactly what is the commission? How does it work? Why did the post-apartheid government in South Africa choose this method of resolving past atrocities and racial abuse during apartheid? Design a similar program for more effectively dealing with student conduct at your school or college. Include a preface arguing the merits of the program for the college dean or the local school board.

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