As a fan but a person who rarely reads memoirs, I could smack myself for leaving it so late to read the compelling, coming of age story of South Africa’s own Trevor Noah, Coloured Boy in Born A Crime.
Absolutely loved the formidably confident Xhosa mother Patricia, who felt the pain of growing up in a in a hut with fourteen occupants in the townships, paying it forward until she could no more. Patricia determined and forged her own path. A fiercely independent yet deeply religious woman, she broke barriers to conceive a child with a white Swiss man, during the raging apartheid years, a crime punishable by five years of imprisonment. Subsequently Trevor Noah spent most of his formative years indoors and when outdoors, on the run, some soberingly, painfully recollected, and others humorously honest. Her faith and persistence in her Jesus and instilling religion is evident by carting her son by taxi from morning to late at night to cover three church sessions despite the ravages of riots and rampant fear.
The three part, eighteen episode book details personal essays of Trevor Noah’s growth in apartheid South Africa as one who never quite fit in as a light-skinned person, not black enough, nor white enough, despite his propensity for languages which was a saving grace.
This is an impinging recount of episodes of being thrown from a moving car with his mother and brother, with Zulus hot on the chase, living on the skids by subsisting on mopane worms during tough times, a sad lesson of regret during his secondary schooling life, the burn of the hood, getting out of there with a memorable life lesson to a career in stand-up comedy and finally stardom, all recounted with hilarity, yet not discounting the perils and drama of South Africa, during her sad periods. Confidently, she effuses over her Jesus being her insurance after her recovery from her husband’s violent outburst which resulted in a severe gunshot sustained, healed and an almost immediate return to work.
It is also the story of a young man’s relationship with his fearless, outspoken mother who loved him unconditionally, ensured that he was educated, beaten out of love, determined to save him from poverty and violence. As a person of colour, who lived through the apartheid years but was blanketed from the turmoil, one who voted for change against white supremacy and one who has a mother who believed in strict discipline, good behaviour through punishment (only out of love), it is the fear that propels one towards success.
Expect to see this book adapted into a film with Trevor Noah through his production company, Ark Angel Productions. I did not listen to the engaging audio version narrated by Trevor Noah. Familiar with his voice and humour, the words flowed off the pages as I heard him narrate his stark South African Reality,
Definitely a recommended read.