This article was written for Annabel & Grace, which is now part of Rest Less.
I have just returned from a delightful trip to South Africa and it was pure coincidence that my book group chose Born A Crime by Trevor Noah before I left. So, while travelling I read his autobiography, made all the more poignant by being there. I have a strong spiritual and physical connection with this beautiful and troubled country. My mother was born in a ‘dorp’ called Benoni. In those days, it was mainly a mining town.
Trevor Noah has become one of South Africa’s stars. He is hugely successful in the US, hosting The Daily Show. Ironically Donald Trump has contributed to making his programme one of the most influential satirical news shows!
Trevor’s raise to fame is made more extraordinary due to his South African childhood. Trevor was ‘born a crime’ due to his mother Patricia, who was a Xhosa and his father a white Swiss German. He was conceived during apartheid in 1984 and was 6 years old when Nelson Mandela was released from prison.
He grew up in a woman’s world. Apartheid kept him away from his father and most kids in Soweto had fathers working in the mines away from home.
For the first few years of his life Noah was brought up a white boy in a black world. He was given special treatment by his family which led him to never being beaten. He thought his special treatment was not because he was white but it was “Trevor doesn’t get beaten because he is Trevor”.
After a few years of schooling Trevor chose to be ‘black’. It was among his black friends that he felt most comfortable. He learnt to bridge the race gap by learning many of the African languages as most kids in the townships only knew one language and therefore they couldn’t cope with the divisions of the country. By doing this he avoided many areas of conflict.
There are many touching moments in the book. Born A Crime is a story of a boy who as a child ran wild. He survived the hardships and knocks of the townships. He was often dicing with the wrong side of the law. But what carried him through was his exceptional, eccentric, protective and deeply religious mother. She fought for him against so many odds during and post-apartheid.
This book is a story of personal survival. Throughout his life his wits and his humour have kept him going. His story shows up the horrors and damage of apartheid.
Trevor Noah has emerged amazingly unscathed to become a much loved figure in South Africa and now a top celebrity in the US.
For me this is a definite ‘must read’. I learnt so much about the effect of apartheid and its legacy still affecting the country today.
To purchase this book, Born in Crime, from Amazon click HERE