Born a Crime

by

Trevor Noah

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Xhosa Term Analysis

One of South Africa’s two largest ethnic groups (along with the Zulu), who live primarily in the southern part of the country. Trevor’s family is Xhosa, and he learns the language from a young age. He notes that, while the Zulu historically fought colonial occupiers with military force, the Xhosa historically learned English and tried to negotiate with them—but neither of these strategies proved particularly effective, and animosity continues to simmer between the two groups.

Xhosa Quotes in Born a Crime

The Born a Crime quotes below are all either spoken by Xhosa or refer to Xhosa. 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 1 Quotes

The genius of apartheid was convincing people who were the overwhelming majority to turn on each other. Apart hate, is what it was. You separate people into groups and make them hate one another so you can run them all.

Related Characters: Trevor Noah (speaker)
Page Number: 3
Explanation and Analysis:

The triumph of democracy over apartheid is sometimes called the Bloodless Revolution. It is called that because very little white blood was spilled. Black blood ran in the streets.

As the apartheid regime fell, we knew that the black man was now going to rule. The question was, which black man?

Related Characters: Trevor Noah (speaker)
Page Number: 12
Explanation and Analysis:
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Xhosa Term Timeline in Born a Crime

The timeline below shows where the term Xhosa appears in Born a Crime. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Racism, Apartheid, and the Cycle of Poverty Theme Icon
Identity, Belonging, and Community Theme Icon
...on the white government. The most notable division is that between the Zulu and the Xhosa, “South Africa’s two dominant groups.” The Zulu are traditionally warriors, so they continued fighting the... (full context)
Racism, Apartheid, and the Cycle of Poverty Theme Icon
Identity, Belonging, and Community Theme Icon
Resilience Through Religion, Education, and Humor Theme Icon
...Jesus wants them to go or not; she ends the argument by yelling, “Sun’qhela,” a Xhosa word that effectively means “don’t undermine me” and functions as “a command and a threat,... (full context)
Racism, Apartheid, and the Cycle of Poverty Theme Icon
Resilience Through Religion, Education, and Humor Theme Icon
...primarily Zulu, “very militant and very nationalistic,” fights with the African National Congress, which is Xhosa-led but diverse. Riots and murder (especially necklacing, or putting someone’s torso and arms in a... (full context)
Racism, Apartheid, and the Cycle of Poverty Theme Icon
Identity, Belonging, and Community Theme Icon
Resilience Through Religion, Education, and Humor Theme Icon
Soon, the angry minibus driver and Noah’s mother get into an argument—she is a Xhosa woman with a mixed race child, who was climbing into a random man’s car just... (full context)
Chapter 2
Racism, Apartheid, and the Cycle of Poverty Theme Icon
Identity, Belonging, and Community Theme Icon
Love and Personal Growth Theme Icon
The chapter begins. Noah’s family is mixed: his mother is a black Xhosa woman, and his father is a Swiss/German man. Race-mixing is “one of the worst crimes... (full context)
Racism, Apartheid, and the Cycle of Poverty Theme Icon
Resilience Through Religion, Education, and Humor Theme Icon
...have to carry passes and return to the townships at night). Patricia ignores the rules; Xhosa prostitutes teach her how to pass for a maid and advise her to rent a... (full context)
Chapter 4
Racism, Apartheid, and the Cycle of Poverty Theme Icon
Identity, Belonging, and Community Theme Icon
...way to get “a leg up” as a black South African. At home, they speak Xhosa. Trevor’s mom teaches him Zulu (which is closely related to Xhosa), German (which she speaks... (full context)
Chapter 5
Racism, Apartheid, and the Cycle of Poverty Theme Icon
Identity, Belonging, and Community Theme Icon
...Temperance at the age of nine, but he sends her to live in Transkei, the Xhosa “homeland,” with his sister. (full context)
Racism, Apartheid, and the Cycle of Poverty Theme Icon
Identity, Belonging, and Community Theme Icon
Most Xhosa names become self-fulfilling prophecies; Patricia’s, “Nombuyiselo,” means “She Who Gives Back,” and is fitting: even... (full context)
Chapter 14
Identity, Belonging, and Community Theme Icon
...and Afrikaans included by default, as the languages of power and the white minority; Zulu, Xhosa, Tswana, and Ndebele are major native languages; while Swazi, Tsonga, Venda, Sotho, and Pedi are... (full context)