Customer Reviews for

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

Average Rating 4.5
( 56 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 56 Customer Reviews
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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2013

    I am a high school sophomore and I had to do a research project

    I am a high school sophomore and I had to do a research project on the apartheid in South Africa. This book didn’t really help me in terms of my research, but it was a very interesting story. I really like the fact that it was a written by someone who experienced the apartheid first hand. It really went in depth on how the black Africans were treated by the white Africans. Mark Mathabane, the author of the book, shared every emotion he had and described the situations he went through very vividly. Mark tells us how he overcame the apartheid at such a young age with his siblings, and how this experienced changed him. He also talks about his education and he mentions how he was the best in his class. He wanted to become the first doctor in his family. He talks about very important events in his life and how close he was to his family. I really enjoyed this book because I got to know how it really was during the apartheid and how it felt. I recommend this book to everyone.

    10 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 21, 2007

    A True Eye-opener

    Mark Mthabane, author of 'Kaffir Boy', gives his story of how he struggled and overcame the `white mans¿ prejudice and oppression in his first eighteen years during apartheid South Africa. Mthabane experiences first hand the harsh conditions and prejudicial laws of apartheid, as he grows up with his family in the poverty stricken township of Alexandria. Mthabane describes how as a boy he strived to distance himself from the cruel streets of Africa¿s most dangerous ghetto. His initiation into a young black man¿s society was surviving nightly police raids and destructive gang wars. Mthabane suffered through starvation, fought to live in a world were death and murder was an accepted way of life and unknowingly fought against a future of child prostitution. As a youth man he challenged the white man¿s dominancy over the black population, his rightful opposition against the way black people were treated was often the cause of much of his abuse and suffering. As a way of overcoming his underprivileged lifestyle Mthabane turned his hunger for food into hunger for knowledge, and hope that he could one day work in the white man¿s world as an equal. His mother was his inspiration she pushed herself to the edge of death, as any true mother would, to give her son the opportunity and education to fulfill his dream. He writes about how life gave him an opportunity to grow in the form of tennis. Tennis became his salvation as he made white friends who saw apartheid for what it really was. He experienced the kindness in white people as they helped him achieve his dream, paid for his schooling and showed him how to succeed in a world that saw black people as slaves and underclassmen. He later on was inspired by Arthur Ashe, a famous black tennis player, who strengthened his hopes and led him into excelling at every aspect of his life. He over passed the idea that a black man must one day work for the white man and strove to make himself seen as an equal in the white man¿s world. He would not be discriminated against, he would not become a slave of apartheid, he wanted freedom and his increasing skill in tennis was his path to equality. The message of this book is that anyone with the determination to survive and thrive can, for among the oppressed of Africans poverty Mark Mthabane rose above his likely future to live a fulfilling life and help bring inspiration to other hopeless people. The book was very powerful and inspiring, written by an author who has been through hardships most can not even imagine. This book really opened my eyes to the hate of the African people and the true extent of their discrimination. Writing from his heart, Mthabane opens the eyes of the world to the treatment of his people. I recommend this book to those who need inspiration or feel that something in their life is missing. Mthabane proved that anyone can rise through grief and poverty keeping their dignity and strength as they build their path to freedom.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2012

    AP World History Review - you must check it out if you're interested in rights.

    I highly recommend Kaffir Boy: The Story of a Black Youth's Coming of Age in Apartheid South Africa by Mark Mathabane. Never before have I read a book and so fully felt immersed in the authors situation. The descriptions were so vivid, that by the end of the book I pretty much felt every emotion and felt every action the author went through. And it was a shocking picture, giving me a glimpse at something I've never really known or cared enough to know about, apartheid in South Africa. The book begins when the author is a little child, and experiencing the terrors and humiliations of the frequent raids on his shanty town looking for people without the proper "papers" to live there. The total fear and the degrading nature of these appearances were vividly clear, and the only thing you as a reader could do was turn the next page as his father was beaten and stripped in front of his children, then taken to prison to come back months or years later. As he grows older, the author tries to find work and earn something for his family, and even gets involved with the local gang that is notorious for killing people. But thankfully his mom had a plan, and she and the author go through a humiliating and derogatory process to get the papers in order for the author to attend school, the first in his family to do so. Things go up from there. The author excels in school, finds a love for a sport in tennis, and as he's noticed moves up and makes friends untill he finally gets a tennis scholarship to attend a university in America, which is something very few of his people have ever done, and it might even be a first. Overall, Kaffir Boy: The Story of a Black Youth's Coming of Age in Apartheid South Africa is a powerful, moving tale about one persons childhood and early life, and what he went through and overcame to get where he is today.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 9, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Very Insightful

    Mark Mathbane's novel reveals a truly harrowing depiction of what life was like in apartheid era South Africa. His childhood memories of growing up in the township of Alexandra are very insightful. The novel provides a detailed account of a world that would otherwise have been lost over the course of time. I also enjoyed Mark Poynter's novel Middleburg, which examines apartheid from the perspective a white minority. While both books examine a similar theme, Middleburg is more entertaining and far more enjoyable to read.

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  • Posted May 5, 2010

    Enlightening Read!

    While I've read about Apartheid, it was amazing and sobering to hear it from someone who lived it. I have a new appreciation for everything I have. The author has a way of writing in a way that celebrates the resilience of children, inspires hope for the future but without being sappy or manipulative.
    A great read, I highly recommend. I look forward to the sequel.

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  • Posted December 12, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Not What I Expected

    At first, I thought this was going to be a boring autobiography about how horrible it is in apartheid South Africa. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that not only was it an eye-opening account of his life with apartheid, but it was also an inspiration. It seems like a cliche, but Mark Mathabane's story shows that you can reach any goal as long as you have the dedication and persistance to do it. You will never regret having read this book and will be thinking about it for a long time after you have read the last word.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2009

    AP World History Review: A description of my opinion of the book

    Kaffir Boy was an excellent book. Mark Mathabane is a very gifted writer and it is great that he was able to come to America and spread awareness about apartheid South America. Kaffir Boy is moving beyond belief. I could feel his fear when the police bardged into the shack where Mark lived in Alexandra. I could almost feel his pain from hunger and I sympathized with him when his father was taken away for not having his pass in order. Another impressive feature of this Kaffir Boy is the vivid details that Mark uses to explain the tragic events in his life. He describes his run-down shack where his family lived. He recalls the horrors of the random police raids. I was very much impressed with Kaffir Boy's portrayal of Mark's successes and failures.
    Mark Mathabane comepletely fulfills his purpose. He expresses at the end of the book how he feels compelled to record the everyday tragedies in apartheid South America to raise awareness for the black people still living under extreme racial discrimination. He could not have done a better job. Mark leaves the reader feeling obligated to help the people under racial discrimination. Anyone who reads this book will understand the struggles of people living in apartheid South America and will have broadened their knowledge of the world. I reccomend this book not only as a tool for learning about the history of South America, but also as an inspiring story of a child's struggle to survive and thrive in a world where he is viewed by many as comepletely worthless.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2008

    Outstanding Is An Understatement!

    This book moves beyond outstanding. It will open your eyes to issues that are real and still going on to this day. I only wish someone 'HINT, HINT STEVEN SPIELBURG, JAMES CAMERON, GEORGE LUCAS, MEL GIBSON or OPRAH' would turn this book into a movie to educate people about what really goes on in Africa.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2007

    Reading through the eyes of a survivor

    When I went into the book store and picked up Kaffir Boy, I could not put this book down. The book allows you to step into the mind of a little boy growing up in South Africa during the apartheid.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2007

    Kaffir Boy

    This book is awesome. I would have to admit its a adult literature and not that interesting to a kid like me but when i started reading I loved it! This book inspired me to never be prejudice ever!!! Also I have learned that racism is wrong and can hurt many people emotionally and phsically.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 20, 2006

    An absolute must read!

    I was assigned to read this book for a history class, and fell in love with it! Eventhough I finished my assignment before I actually finished reading the book, I was so into the book that I absolutely had to finish reading it, instead of putting it down the moment my assignment was done. This is a truly inspirational story about making lemonade even when life doesn't hand you a single lemon. I reccommend it 100% for anyone, young or old.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2006

    Best book I ever read

    My english teacher had us read an excerpt from Kaffir Boy and analyze it. Right off I was captivated by Mr. Mathabane's descriptive style of writing. I went to the library the next day to check out Kaffir Boy and enjoyed it immensely. Mathabane described his life so well I felt like I stood right beside him as his life unfolded. He revealed what life was like in South Africa under apartheid very well. Although the language was somewhat harsh here and there, I reccommend this book to anyone. This is a masterpiece that belongs on my bookshelf. Well done, Mr. Mathabane.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2005

    Very Awful

    Being MADE to read this book was probably the most awful thing the school system had its students do. Do not read this book if you are weak at heart and have no desire to know the interworkings of black nation of Aparthied South Africa. The sentence structure Mathebane uses is childish and elementary. It seems as though he took a thesaurus and used every word that meant the same thing in one sentence. His timeline is confusing as well. In one scene a sister will be born and in the next scene (some 2 years after), the same sister is somehow born again? No. This book was wretched and I am appalled that a high school would have its students be made to read a book that has cuss words every five words that we are not alowed to use but can apparently read. Dose that makes sense? No. The sexual and historical content of this book needs not to be overlooked, but the way he delivers the information is less than disirable.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2005

    This book should be on every school libray shelf

    This book was undoubtfully one of the most eye-opening books i ever read. I never new of the real facts of aparteid and this book gave me a very graphic incite. This makes you really feel grateful for what you have. I wish I could say more but this book just had me feelin so many diffrent emotions that I can't evend bring my fingers to type it. This book is an excellant book for people 13-and older. It is especially good for the African American crowd. To those African American, like myself, who grew up in middle class families wishing and hoping for those new nikes......imagine wishing and hoping for food or for medical attention. All those kids who fake sick to stay home from school im sure one of Marks buddies would be delighted to take your place. Be thankful for what you have because there are so many without. Sincerly, Maya 14

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2005


    What a great book. I have read quite a bit about South Africa during apartheid, but I had not yet read a story about someone living in such poverty in one of the townships outside Johannesburg. What an inspiring story it was. You wonder what incredible strength these people must posess just to get up again every day and struggle to make it to the next morning. I highly recommend it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2005

    Absolutly Wonderous

    This book was required reading when i was in 10th grade. For my classmates and I it was habit to complain about the unjustness of not being able to choose our own books to read...but after reading Kaffir Boy i was forced to change my tune. It is undoubtedly one of the best books I have ever read. As i read it, I found myself in awe that this incredible story was true, and then in tears that anyone had to suffer as Mark suffered. Before I read Kaffir Boy, I didn't even know what apartheid was, and I certainly did not know the extreme conditions and problems that were being dealt with in South Africa. I reccomend this book to anyone (probably 13 or older) who enjoys reading about and learning from the struggles of others. It's not a book I will soon forget.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2005


    Amazing. Mr. Mathabane tells the story so powerfully that you become one with his pain, his fear, his emotions. Read this book to gain some understanding of what a person may feel and experience through racial oppression. It is also inspiring to imagine succeeding in such an environment. I read it as a child and still pick it up years later and feel inspired.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2004

    Kaffir Boy

    I really enjoyed reading Kaffir Boy. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to find out what it was like living in South Africa under the laws of apartheid. Mark Mathabane describes his childhood experiences living under the laws and how he managed to get through it. He talks about all of the harsh times he had to deal with by the police, his parents, and at school. He talks about his achievements and goals that he sets. This book really made me think about myself and how hard I have to work to reach my goals. As I read the book I felt like I was there with him experiencing everything. This book was great.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2004

    Like I was there to witness...

    I read this book maybe ten years ago, and it still haunts me. I could smell, see, hear, taste and feel the horrible life this young man lived under apartheid, as if I was there to witness it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2004

    Excellent ! Excellent ! Excellent!

    This book was wonderful. As I read through the pages, I felt the pain of the main character; I rejoiced with all of his victories; I slept on the floor with him; and I fought the same fight of equality as the students. The story was so well written that you willingly dedicate your mind and heart to the people of South Africa. Wonderful !!!

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