Kaffir Boy

Kaffir Boy

by

Mark Mathabane

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Apartheid Term Analysis

South Africa’s system of laws that enforced strict racial segregation, benefiting white people and disenfranchising black people, that existed from 1948 until the mid-1990s.

Apartheid Quotes in Kaffir Boy

The Kaffir Boy quotes below are all either spoken by Apartheid or refer to Apartheid. 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:
Apartheid’s Structural Oppression Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Touchstone edition of Kaffir Boy published in 1986.
Chapter 1 Quotes

In South Africa there’s a saying that to be black is to be at the end of the line when anything of significance is to be had. So these people were considered and treated as the dregs of society, aliens in the land of their birth. Such labelling and treatment made them an angry and embittered lot.

Related Characters: Johannes Mark Mathabane (speaker)
Page Number: 4
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 5 Quotes

My father existed under the illusion, formed as much by a strange innate pride as by a blindness to everything but his own will, that someday all white people would disappear from South Africa, and black people would revert tot their old ways of living.

Page Number: 31-32
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 7 Quotes

My father was now a completely changed man; so changed that he now began drinking and gambling excessively, and from time to time quarreling with my mother over money matters and over what he called my mother’s streak of insubordination not befitting “the woman he bought.” But he still tried, in his own way, to be a father and a husband.

Page Number: 52
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 8 Quotes

From my experiences with white policemen, I had come to develop a deep-seated fear of white people; and seeing the bloody murders and savage beatings and indiscriminate shootings in the movies, that fear was fueled to phobic proportions. I vowed that never would I enter such a world, and I thanked the law for making sure I could not do so without a permit.

Related Characters: Johannes Mark Mathabane (speaker)
Page Number: 54
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 10 Quotes

“You and Papa should not have had me. I’m not happy in this world.”

Page Number: 67
Explanation and Analysis:

Throughout the years that I lived in South Africa, people were to call me a fool for refusing to live life the way they did and by doing the things they did. Little did they realize that in our world, the black world, one could only survive if one played the fool, and bided his time.

Related Characters: Johannes Mark Mathabane (speaker)
Page Number: 74
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 16 Quotes

My conception of the world, of life, was wholly in racial terms; and that conception was not mine alone. It was echoed by all black people I had come across. There were two worlds as far as we were concerned, separated in absolutely every sense. But somehow […] they had everything to do with each other; […] one could not be without the other, and their dependency was that of master and slave.

Related Characters: Johannes Mark Mathabane (speaker)
Page Number: 94
Explanation and Analysis:

But all of this I passively accepted as a way of life, for I knew no other. The house, the yard, the neighborhood and Alexandra were at the hub of my existence. They constituted the only world I knew, the only reality.

Related Characters: Johannes Mark Mathabane (speaker)
Page Number: 96
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 19 Quotes

[Uncle Piet] had been released—without being charged—and given a warning that he better get himself a pass soon, for he was getting too tall and was beginning to wear long pants, factors which alone made him adult enough to carry a pass.

Related Characters: Johannes Mark Mathabane (speaker), Uncle Piet
Related Symbols: Passbooks
Page Number: 108
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 21 Quotes

They, like myself, had grown up in an environment where the value of an education was never emphasized, where the first thing a child learned was not how to read and write and spell, but how to fight and steal and rebel; where the money to send children to school was grossly lacking, for survival was first priority.

Related Characters: Johannes Mark Mathabane (speaker)
Page Number: 123
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 25 Quotes

And oh, how I yearned for the day when armies of black peasants would invade the white world and butcher, guillotine, hang, machine-gun, bury alive and drown in hot lead every bad white man alive.

Related Characters: Johannes Mark Mathabane (speaker)
Page Number: 158
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 30 Quotes

“Yes, I do believe in the Bible. That’s why I cannot accept the laws of this country. We white people are hypocrites. We call ourselves Christians, yet our deeds make the Devil look like a saint. I sometimes wish I hadn’t left England.”

Related Characters: Mrs. Smith (speaker), Johannes Mark Mathabane, Granny (Ellen)
Page Number: 190
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 32 Quotes

It struck me that [Granny] could not read, like millions of other blacks who worked for whites? How did they function normally in a world totally ruled by signs?

Thus my consciousness was awakened to the pervasiveness of “petty partied,” and everywhere I went in the white world, I was met by invisible guards of racial segregation.

Related Characters: Johannes Mark Mathabane (speaker), Granny (Ellen)
Page Number: 201
Explanation and Analysis:

To me, and many blacks, whites were a race peculiarly obsessed with creating contradictions that they, and they alone, could understand—if indeed they really could understand them in the strict sense of the word.

Related Characters: Johannes Mark Mathabane (speaker)
Page Number: 203
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 36 Quotes

Worst of all, I found among members of some churches a readiness to accept their lot as God’s will, a willingness to disparage their own blackness and heritage as inferior to the white man’s Christianity, a readiness to give up fighting to make things just in this world, in the hope that God’s justice would prevail in the hereafter.

Page Number: 217
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 42 Quotes

While student leaders argued about what to do to diffuse the situation, the police suddenly opened fire. Momentarily the crowd stood dazed, thinking that the bullets were plastic and had been fired into the air. But when several small children began dropping down like swatted flies, their white uniforms soaked in red blood, pandemonium broke out.

Related Characters: Johannes Mark Mathabane (speaker)
Page Number: 259
Explanation and Analysis:

For an instant I became aware of the senselessness of what we were doing. But those misgivings gave way to euphoria as I saw black peasants making off with plundered goods. I joined in.

Related Characters: Johannes Mark Mathabane (speaker)
Page Number: 265
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 43 Quotes

Out of touch with sane whites, I began to hate all whites. Why weren’t liberal whites doing something to stop the slaughter of innocent black children? Why weren’t they demanding investigations into the brutal and indiscriminate use of force by police? […] The loud silence of the white electorate turned many black moderates into radicals and radicals into revolutionaries.

Related Characters: Johannes Mark Mathabane (speaker)
Page Number: 268
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 44 Quotes

“You know […] this whole thing reminds me of what Hitler did to my country. His madness left us Germans with a feeling of guilt and shame that can never go away. The very same forces of racial superiority of that idiot and madman I see at work right here. There could yet be another Holocaust in the world.”

Related Characters: Helmut (speaker), Johannes Mark Mathabane
Page Number: 279
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 47 Quotes

If four years of attending college in America had awakened Andre to the brutal reality of how wrong his race was in subjugating blacks […] then I had hope that some day the rest of his race could similarly awaken—if they wanted to.

Related Characters: Johannes Mark Mathabane (speaker), Andre Zietsman
Page Number: 292
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 51 Quotes

Many blacks believed that such arbitrary racial classification was blatant proof that the government had created apartheid not because God so ordained, or that the races were so radically different they could not coexist as one nation, as white supporters of racial segregation claimed. Apartheid was purely and simply a scheme to perpetuate white dominance, greed, and privilege.

Related Characters: Johannes Mark Mathabane (speaker)
Page Number: 314
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 54 Quotes

How would he deal with the fear, the frustration, the hate, the anger that were the lot of every black child? Would he stay out of trouble long enough to become a man, to realize his dreams, whatever they might be?

Related Characters: Johannes Mark Mathabane (speaker), George Mathabane
Page Number: 350
Explanation and Analysis:
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Apartheid Term Timeline in Kaffir Boy

The timeline below shows where the term Apartheid appears in Kaffir Boy. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 16
Apartheid’s Structural Oppression Theme Icon
Personal Prejudice Theme Icon
Anger, Hatred, and Violence Theme Icon
...Mathabane reflects that in this moment he understands that white people are “the authors of apartheid,” and he understands the world “wholly in racial terms.” All black people think this way.... (full context)
Chapter 37
Tribal Identity vs. Modern Education Theme Icon
...German man named Wilfred, a white liberal who treats black people well because he thinks apartheid is comparable to Nazism. Tom is leaving for another tennis club, so he introduces Mathabane... (full context)
Chapter 38
Apartheid’s Structural Oppression Theme Icon
Personal Prejudice Theme Icon
Anger, Hatred, and Violence Theme Icon
...forbids Arthur Ashe from entering the country for six years for making critical remarks about apartheid, in November 1973, they allow him to come play in a tournament. As they anticipate... (full context)
Apartheid’s Structural Oppression Theme Icon
Anger, Hatred, and Violence Theme Icon
...liberation of all black people in South Africa, following the example of Gandhi. However, the apartheid government refused to even negotiate, and many ANC leaders were driven underground. In Mathabane’s generation,... (full context)
Apartheid’s Structural Oppression Theme Icon
Personal Prejudice Theme Icon
Anger, Hatred, and Violence Theme Icon
...black boxer named Bob Foster beats a white opponent and, for the first time, the apartheid government allows photos of the fight to be published in the newspapers. However, Mathabane has... (full context)
Apartheid’s Structural Oppression Theme Icon
Personal Prejudice Theme Icon
Anger, Hatred, and Violence Theme Icon
...come liberate us,” to show black people what they can accomplish if they don’t let apartheid tell them who they are. However, when Mathabane finds Ashe standing on a stage, giving... (full context)
Chapter 39
Apartheid’s Structural Oppression Theme Icon
Personal Prejudice Theme Icon
Tribal Identity vs. Modern Education Theme Icon
...day as soon as Mathabane leaves the tennis club and returns to the reality of apartheid law. The two worlds make him feel like “Jekyll and Hyde” and he realizes that... (full context)
Chapter 41
Apartheid’s Structural Oppression Theme Icon
Personal Prejudice Theme Icon
Tribal Identity vs. Modern Education Theme Icon
Anger, Hatred, and Violence Theme Icon
...However, Mathabane explains that after all he’s read of freedom, he’ll never be happy under apartheid where he cannot think or speak as he pleases. The principal admires Mathabane’s passion and... (full context)
Chapter 42
Apartheid’s Structural Oppression Theme Icon
Personal Prejudice Theme Icon
Anger, Hatred, and Violence Theme Icon
Violence is inevitable as black frustration and anger with apartheid “crystallized into a powder keg.” In 1976, the white government declares that all black schools... (full context)
Chapter 43
Apartheid’s Structural Oppression Theme Icon
Personal Prejudice Theme Icon
Anger, Hatred, and Violence Theme Icon
By October, the apartheid government ruthlessly but successfully quells most of the rebellion. Hundreds of protesters are dead, and... (full context)
Chapter 44
Apartheid’s Structural Oppression Theme Icon
Personal Prejudice Theme Icon
...not very good. Helmut is in South Africa on a temporary work contract and hates apartheid’s race laws, so he and Mathabane purposefully flaunt them by playing together on whites-only tennis... (full context)
Chapter 47
Apartheid’s Structural Oppression Theme Icon
Personal Prejudice Theme Icon
Tribal Identity vs. Modern Education Theme Icon
Mathabane’s friendship with Andre deepens. Andre’s four years in America showed him how awful apartheid truly is, and Mathabane feels hopeful that if Andre could change, perhaps other white people... (full context)
Chapter 48
Apartheid’s Structural Oppression Theme Icon
Personal Prejudice Theme Icon
Anger, Hatred, and Violence Theme Icon
Christianity Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 50
Apartheid’s Structural Oppression Theme Icon
Personal Prejudice Theme Icon
Anger, Hatred, and Violence Theme Icon
Suffering, Survival, and Trauma Theme Icon
...people, Stan and Marjory introduce Mathabane as their personal friend. Marjory asks many questions about apartheid and how it holds black people back so effectively. Mathabane tells her about the anger,... (full context)
Chapter 51
Apartheid’s Structural Oppression Theme Icon
Personal Prejudice Theme Icon
Anger, Hatred, and Violence Theme Icon
...“honorary whites” and allows them to live in the white part of town, proving that apartheid’s race laws are groundless. (full context)
Apartheid’s Structural Oppression Theme Icon
Tribal Identity vs. Modern Education Theme Icon
Anger, Hatred, and Violence Theme Icon
...Ferguson states that he would like Mathabane to be a member in their club, but apartheid policy dictates they’d have to build separate amenities just for him, since he’s the only... (full context)
Chapter 53
Apartheid’s Structural Oppression Theme Icon
Personal Prejudice Theme Icon
Anger, Hatred, and Violence Theme Icon
...from leaving the country, most likely so they can’t testify about the true nature of apartheid to countries like America. (full context)
Chapter 54
Apartheid’s Structural Oppression Theme Icon
Tribal Identity vs. Modern Education Theme Icon
Suffering, Survival, and Trauma Theme Icon
...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. (full context)
Apartheid’s Structural Oppression Theme Icon
Personal Prejudice Theme Icon
Anger, Hatred, and Violence Theme Icon
Suffering, Survival, and Trauma Theme Icon
...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... (full context)