Born a Crime


Trevor Noah

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Townships Term Analysis

Neighborhoods like Soweto and Alexandria, usually on the outskirts of major cities, that were designated for nonwhites during apartheid.

Townships Quotes in Born a Crime

The Born a Crime quotes below are all either spoken by Townships or refer to Townships. 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:
Chapter 4 Quotes

I was eleven years old, and it was like I was seeing my country for the first time. In the townships you don't see segregation, because everyone is black. In the white world, any time my mother took me to a white church, we were the only black people there, and my mom didn't separate herself from anyone. She didn't care. She'd go right up and sit with the white people. And at Maryvale, the kids were mixed up and hanging out together. Before that day, I had never seen people being together and yet not together, occupying the same space yet choosing not to associate with each other in any way. In an instant I could see, I could feel, how the boundaries were drawn. Groups moved in color patterns across the yard, up the stairs, down the hall. It was insane. I looked over at the white kids I'd met that morning. Ten minutes earlier I'd thought I was at a school where they were a majority. Now I realized how few of them there actually were compared to everyone else.

Related Characters: Trevor Noah (speaker)
Page Number: 57
Explanation and Analysis:
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Townships Term Timeline in Born a Crime

The timeline below shows where the term Townships 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
...because downtown is reserved for whites (blacks have to carry passes and return to the townships at night). Patricia ignores the rules; Xhosa prostitutes teach her how to pass for a... (full context)
Chapter 5
Racism, Apartheid, and the Cycle of Poverty Theme Icon
Love and Personal Growth Theme Icon
Resilience Through Religion, Education, and Humor Theme Icon
...Trevor move to Eden Park, a colored neighborhood with real, suburban houses, surrounded by black townships. Trevor is uncomfortable having his own bedroom and sleeps in his mother’s bed. They also... (full context)
Chapter 11
Identity, Belonging, and Community Theme Icon
...“things that required money,” so he hangs out with “the poor black kids” from the townships, who hang out separately on the weekends. (full context)
Chapter 16
Racism, Apartheid, and the Cycle of Poverty Theme Icon
Identity, Belonging, and Community Theme Icon
...and eagerly pitches in to help those who need it. For the most part, “the township polices itself as well.” However, it also limits people’s ambition—one of Trevor and Sizwe’s friends... (full context)