Book Review: Born a Crime

Trevor Noah was born during the tail end of apartheid to a Xhosa Mother and a Swiss-German Father. Mandela was released when he was 5 years old.
Under apartheid, relations between a white person and a black person was strictly forbidden, but “humans being humans and sex being sex, that prohibition never stopped anyone.”

His parents relationship was a crime that came with strict punishment.
As Trevor notes in the book, “Where most children are proof of their parents’ love, I was the proof of their criminality.”


The book delves deeper into his childhood to young adulthood, that he has mentioned about during some of his stand-up comedy routine. Like the ass whooping he was always getting from his mother, or the fact that his grandmother never wanted to beat him because, “A black child, I understand. A black child, you hit them and they stay black. Trevor, when you hit him he turns blue and green and yellow and red. I’ve never seen those colors before. I’m scared I’m going to break him. I don’t want to kill a white person. I’m so afraid. I’m not going to touch him.”


Or the times his mother would run after him, he says himself that they had very Tom and Jerry relationship. And the time his mother was shot.

The book, though, is more than just anecdotes for a comedic routine.
This book is equal parts funny and sad but also incredibly inspiring and educative as well.
As with every book, one learn lessons and the thing to take away from the book is to learn how to let go of past hurts.
As I read, I found myself laughing out loud and being moved to tears in some instances.

More than just an unnerving and entertaining story of growing up in apartheid and post- apartheid South Africa (seriously, we thought we had it bad in Uganda) Born a Crime is also about the author’s incredible mother who was a rebel and a survivor. A mother who was not beholden to the past hurts, deprivation and betrayal by her parents but who was determined that her son would not have a childhood like hers and grow up, not limited by his circumstances. A strong, stubborn, headstrong, deeply religious woman who believed in not sparing the rod to spoil the child. She’s a true definition of who an African woman should be.
The whole book is centered around her. Its a love-letter to a truly remarkable woman. It’s as much Trevor’s story as it is his mother’s.
She’s inspired me. Her story has inspired me.

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