Born a Crime

by

Trevor Noah

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The book’s primary setting is South Africa’s largest city and economic powerhouse, populated by people of diverse races, mother tongues, and ethnicities. Patricia lives nearly all her life there, and Trevor is born and raised there.

Johannesburg Quotes in Born a Crime

The Born a Crime quotes below are all either spoken by Johannesburg or refer to Johannesburg. For each quote, you can also see the other terms and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Racism, Apartheid, and the Cycle of Poverty Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Random House edition of Born a Crime published in 2016.
Chapter 3 Quotes

There is something magical about Soweto. Yes, it was a prison designed by our oppressors, but it also gave us a sense of self-determination and control. Soweto was ours. It had an aspirational quality that you don't find elsewhere. In America the dream is to make it out of the ghetto. In Soweto, because there was no leaving the ghetto, the dream was to transform the ghetto.

For the million people who lived in Soweto, there were no stores, no bars, no restaurants. There were no paved roads, minimal electricity, inadequate sewerage. But when you put one million people together in one place, they find a way to make a life for themselves. A black-market economy rose up, with every type of business being run out of someone's house: auto mechanics, day cafe, guys selling refurbished tires.

Related Characters: Trevor Noah (speaker), Trevor’s Grandmother / Frances Noah
Related Symbols: The Secondhand Volkswagen
Page Number: 40-41
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Born a Crime LitChart as a printable PDF.
Born a Crime PDF

Johannesburg Term Timeline in Born a Crime

The timeline below shows where the term Johannesburg appears in Born a Crime. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Racism, Apartheid, and the Cycle of Poverty Theme Icon
Resilience Through Religion, Education, and Humor Theme Icon
...response to international pressure over its human rights abuses. She moves from Soweto to downtown Johannesburg—which is illegal because downtown is reserved for whites (blacks have to carry passes and return... (full context)
Chapter 5
Racism, Apartheid, and the Cycle of Poverty Theme Icon
...She soon tires of paying this “black tax” and runs away to live in downtown Johannesburg. (full context)
Chapter 8
Racism, Apartheid, and the Cycle of Poverty Theme Icon
Identity, Belonging, and Community Theme Icon
...and homogeneity more than anything”—he breaks all the rules of apartheid and opens one of Johannesburg’s “first integrated restaurants,” which is incredibly successful because people are more curious about one another... (full context)
Chapter 13
Racism, Apartheid, and the Cycle of Poverty Theme Icon
...mother works in a white family’s house a 40-minute walk away—and they walk “all over Johannesburg together,” for hours. They start stealing liquor-filled chocolates from the mall, but one day, a... (full context)
Chapter 14
Identity, Belonging, and Community Theme Icon
Love and Personal Growth Theme Icon
...later with good news—even though Trevor is sure he is lying. Tim takes Trevor into Johannesburg, where they see a girl leaning over her balcony (“the girl’s sister,” whom it later... (full context)
Chapter 16
Racism, Apartheid, and the Cycle of Poverty Theme Icon
Identity, Belonging, and Community Theme Icon
...so accompanies Sizwe one day. To get into Alex, they have to pass one of Johannesburg’s wealthiest neighborhoods, then an industrial belt, and then a chaotic market next to a bus... (full context)
Chapter 18
Racism, Apartheid, and the Cycle of Poverty Theme Icon
...prison time. He still has partial custody of Andrew and Isaac and is “walking around Johannesburg today, completely free,” still living in the same neighborhood near Patricia. (full context)