Kaffir Boy

Kaffir Boy

by

Mark Mathabane

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Kaffir Boy: Chapter 12 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
After Mathabane, his mother, and his siblings become “nominal Christians,” his mother continues looking for work to no avail. However, in the evenings she tells her children tribal stories and riddles. Although Mathabane also heard these tales when he was young, he now realizes that the stories about spirits, chieftains, and animals carry moral lessons as well, and he is captivated by the ideas hidden in them. Since nobody in the family reads, Mathabane sees his mother’s vast collection of stories as “a kind of library, a fountain of knowledge” that teaches about virtue and vice, good and evil, peace and war, sensitivity, patience, and creativity.
Rather than throw off tribal beliefs as the evangelist demanded, Mathabane’s mother combines her Christian faith with ancestral traditions and stories, demonstrating how Christianity can be used dynamically, adapted by different people in different environments. Although Mathabane’s mother later admits she never attended school, her wealth of virtuous stories and riddles suggest that she possesses her own form of wisdom, passed down orally from her to her children.
Themes
Tribal Identity vs. Modern Education Theme Icon
Christianity Theme Icon
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