Analysis Of Kaffir Boy

Decent Essays

Kaffir Boy is an autobiography by Mark Mathabane that tells his personal experience of 18 years living in Alexandra South Africa. The term “kaffir” in this context is of Arabic origin and used as a racial slur against black people which translates as meaning infidel. As Mathabane states in the preface “In South Africa, it is used disparagingly by most whites to refer to blacks. It is the equivalent of the term nigger” (xiii). Major themes of this autobiography include suffering, fear, race, and rules and order.
The setting of Kaffir Boy takes place in Alexandra South Africa in the 1960s and 1970s. Alexandra was the black ghetto of Johannesburg, which is where the main character, Johannes, lived from birth until reaching adulthood. The ghetto was a shantytown of mostly shacks, lots of gutters, and numerous unpaved potholed streets numbered from First to Twenty-third Avenue. The residents of Alexandra were exposed to the most inhumane living conditions possible. People lived in constant fear of the police raids where parents who did not have their passbook papers in order, would abandon their children and be forced to flee/hide from the police trying to avoid getting arrested or beaten. Most people of the ghetto could barely keep their families away from starvation because work was extremely hard to find if one was black and living in Alexandra. Most of the time men and women could not afford the proper paperwork for their passbooks to leave Alexandra and cross into the

Get Access