Kaffir Boy

Kaffir Boy

by

Mark Mathabane

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Kaffir Boy can help.

Kaffir Boy: Chapter 54 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
At four in the morning, Mathabane’s family rises to watch him pack and see him off—a driver will take him to the airport. Mathabane is about to “become the first black boy ever to leave South Africa on a tennis scholarship.” It seems a “miracle.” Mathabane hugs and kisses his mother and each of his siblings. His father stands impassively against the wall. He pities his father, watching his oldest son embark on a life entirely foreign to his own. Even so, and despite all the abuse, Mathabane realizes he still loves his father. Mathabane kisses him, and his father begins to cry and tells him to take care of himself and write the family often. Mathabane takes it as confirmation that his father loves him as well, and he curses apartheid for preventing them from leading normal lives with healthy relationships.
Mathabane’s position as the first black person to leave South Africa on a tennis scholarship suggests that he’s achieved something historic. Like Ali, Mathabane’s success proves that any black person can rise from poverty and overcome apartheid’s oppression, though not without great difficulty. Mathabane’s father’s tears suggest that his father did love him, despite all of the anger and abuse, he simply did not know how to show it, especially as Mathabane pushed away from his tribal values.
Themes
Apartheid’s Structural Oppression Theme Icon
Tribal Identity vs. Modern Education Theme Icon
Suffering, Survival, and Trauma Theme Icon
Mathabane wonders if America is worth leaving his family behind for, but in his heart he knows it is. He feels a burden of responsibility to use his life for a meaningful purpose—not only for his family, but for his country and his race. Mathabane worries about his siblings, though, growing up under apartheid’s hardship. He especially worries for George, because he sees the early signs of the same hatred Mathabane carried in himself for so long. As Mathabane drives away, he feels he is going toward “destiny.”
Although Mathabane escapes apartheid, his fears for George and his sisters suggests that they will have to endure the same hardships and pains that he did. Even so, Mathabane’s success proves that despite all of apartheid’s methods of inflicting suffering and repressing black people, they can still overcome their oppression and succeed in life.
Themes
Apartheid’s Structural Oppression Theme Icon
Personal Prejudice Theme Icon
Anger, Hatred, and Violence Theme Icon
Suffering, Survival, and Trauma Theme Icon
Related Quotes