Ever felt like a ‘bag of weed’, dropped in fear of apartheid yet finding the strength that comes from faith and love to survive?
Being a bi-racial child in apartheid South Africa was an offense punishable by law. Trevor Noah, born to a black mother and white father, couldn’t walk about freely with neither his mother, because he was a mixed child nor his father because he was a black child.
Deprived of physical contact with his Swiss father, Noah was brought up by a fiercely loving and tenacious mother. She spared him neither beating when she thought he deserved it, nor the soothing wisdom of her tongue. He childishly made fun of his mother’s Christianity, to which she was devoted, only to later learn and rely on her ethical compass that saw him through a mischievous rebellion and slightly criminal youth.
Noah earned his smarts the hard way on the streets of Johannesburg’s slum townships. Survival was a matter of learning to navigate the racial and political turmoil. Coming of age at the moment when apartheid was finally crushed, he was branded an outsider not white and not completely accepted as black. Noah slipped comically between racial barriers by fragile deception and duplication, making sure that he came out ahead of the game always. Well mostly.
Little short of a miracle being tossed out a moving vehicle and surviving, Noah would later be introduced to a brutally abusive step-father. He also juggled an education in a vigorously disciplined Catholic School with the chaos of the streets and his own unruly spirit that rejected every social norm.
He defied all odds to become the sharp-witted, unsparing social critic that he is today. To understand where his peculiar brand of satire comedy was created, this is a good place to start.
It’s befitting Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood gets a 4.5-star rating online. It’s a good read any day, and amidst the truth and pain is a series of comic relief. Hope you get a copy and share your thoughts.