Kaffir Boy

Kaffir Boy

by

Mark Mathabane

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Kaffir Boy: Chapter 27 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Mathabane turns 10 years old, but after all that he’s seen in Alexandra he feels “emotionally” far older than that. Life in Alexandra continues with school and soccer and suffering. Near that end of that year, Mathabane witnesses a murder. As he is walking home one afternoon, he sees six tsotsis chasing two unarmed men. At the sight of gangsters, Mathabane quickly hides himself in some tall grass.
Once again, Mathabane’s traumatic childhood forces him to grow up and face a harsh world far sooner than he should need to, as a child. This suggests that such an environment, filled with poverty, suffering, and oppression, strips one’s innocence away from them.
Themes
Anger, Hatred, and Violence Theme Icon
Suffering, Survival, and Trauma Theme Icon
One of the men escapes, but the tsotsis corner the other in a yard and begin “carving” him with knives, machetes, and tomahawks, grinning with glee at the man’s pained screams. Although bleeding heavily from several wounds, the victim briefly breaks away and runs past where Mathabane is hiding. Mathabane sees his entrails spilling through his clothing. The tsotsis easily catch the man and finish their work. They rifle through the dead man’s clothing and leave his body in a pool of blood. After he’s sure the gangsters are gone, Mathabane sprints home and faints on his doorstep until his mother revives him.
Like the scene of child prostitution, the image of the victim’s inner organs spilling out of his chest as he flees reflects the horrific violence that pervades Mathabane’s world. Such suffering would be a burden for anyone to bear, but is especially troubling for a 10-year-old kid, who should be enjoying his childhood rather than living in fear of being cut to pieces or murdered by police.
Themes
Anger, Hatred, and Violence Theme Icon
Suffering, Survival, and Trauma Theme Icon
Mathabane tries to tell his mother what he saw, but cannot speak and faints again, waking the next day in his house. The memory of what he saw comes back to him. Mathabane starts “withdrawing” from the world and having nightmares about the murder. He cannot “understand the morbid cruelty and satanic impulses that drove people to kill others.” Life seems hopeless and he feels alone in the world.
Mathabane’s confusion at the grotesque violence suggests that the experience deeply traumatizes him, and also again suggests that he is not violent by nature. Although this is not Mathabane’s first witness of suffering, this instance seems to finally unleash all the years of pent-up horror in his mind.
Themes
Suffering, Survival, and Trauma Theme Icon