Saturday, November 5, 2022

Born a Crime - Trevor Noah

 Trevor Noah writes about his life in South Africa and begins with two pieces of the law - how it is a crime for a person who is white to have sex with a black woman and vice versa. Trevor is born to a Swiss father and a strong South African Xhosa black woman so he straightaway is a born crime.

Trevor was born pre Mandela, in the days of apartheid. His mother went through a tough childhood and somehow ran away form her family which wanted her to pay the 'black tax' i.e. the tax for being black which means you take care of your family for life. She starts a new life, has a child with a white man knowing fully it is forbidden, hides herself and her colored child from the world and the police, and somehow gets along in life. Trevor and she fight the world together - he spends almost all his time indoors as a child. Confused about where he belongs - he is neither white nor black and coloreds are rare - he feels a complete misfit.

And he is mischievous and hungry. Caught for stealing, once burning down a house when his science experiment with a magnifying glass went awry, going to jail for having a stolen car, he has an interesting life. His mother meanwhile marries a crazy guy called Abel who shoots her at some point and threatens to kill everyone but they survive. Through all this crazy life Trevor makes a living, initially through CD writing of music, playing music and finally becoming a comedian with his own show.

It's a good, engaging read that gives us an insight into life in South Africa pre and post Mandela, the life of a colored child, the violence in Soweto, the way of religion in those times, the violence, the suppression of the blacks and their rights. I felt like I was pretty much there in Soweto. The relationship with his mother who is super strong and who gives him tough love -the part where she jumps off a moving bus with the kids is crazy - and there are many such incidents.


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