Kaffir Boy

Kaffir Boy


Mark Mathabane

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Kaffir Boy: Chapter 48 Summary & Analysis

In 1977, a black movement leader named Steven Biko dies in police custody, prompting a wave of protests and international condemnations. The apartheid government responds by becoming more militaristic, naming numerous liberation organizations and Christian movements as Communist fronts to be rooted out and destroyed. Military vehicles maintain constant presence in Alexandra. The government creates more black informants within the ghettos. The government bans gatherings of more than three black people at any time, for any reason. The military creates false conspiracies as pretense to kidnap and torture black people. At the same time, black youths talk about how to get guns and grenades so they can storm white kindergartens and slaughter. Mathabane feels consuming anger of his own, but no one seems to have a reasonable way to fight.
The government’s rising brutality is paralleled by black revolutionaries’ yearning for violence and vengeance, suggesting that one fuels the other and two will continue escalating. While Mathabane was previously skeptical of Gandhi and King’s non-violence campaigns, they do seem preferable to a scenario where the government kidnaps and tortures its own people while rebels scheme about murdering kindergartners. Mathabane’s own anger again suggests that such feelings are inevitable and need some sort of outlet, though certainly such gruesome fighting cannot be it.
Apartheid’s Structural Oppression Theme Icon
Personal Prejudice Theme Icon
Anger, Hatred, and Violence Theme Icon
Christianity Theme Icon