Mark Mathabane in Kaffir Boy Essay


I and Mathabane had one thing in common; a poverty-stricken early life to be improved with education. One may find life harsh due to poor financial conditions; however, poverty is not an invincible barrier. The educational growth of a man enables him to raise the quality of his life. “The Kaffir Boy”, an autobiography of Mark Mathabane narrates how he improved his life by acquiring education. I [NAME] also stand as a person who has subdued poverty through education. Although the conditions which were confronted by Mathabane were different, both of us had an aim to eradicate poverty and both of us use the path of educational growth.

A glimpse from past

As depicted in his autobiography, the early life of Marthabane was miserable as he had to live in apartheid. As a young boy; he experienced violence, sufferings, and fear. His life started to change when his mother sent him to school. According to Mathabane, his mother was the source of inspiration for him when Mathabane confirmed by writing, “my mind was stimulated, my creativity encouraged” (Mathabane, 253). Not only this, his grandmother worked for a family as a gardener. They gifted Mathabone the Treasure Island, which developed his interest in reading. Later the same family gifted him a tennis racket through which he learned playing tennis. These elements provoked a spark in Mathabane’s mind to achieve a better life. (Mathabane, 193)

Life took a fortunate turn when Mathabane met Stan Smith in 1977 who helped him in getting a sports scholarship to Limestone College, Southern California and the United States. From there he moved to Saint Louis University in 1979 and then to Quincy College in 1981 and after that, he graduated from Dowling College pursuing a degree in Economics in 1983. (Mathabane, 343) Wittenberg University gave him an honorary doctorate degree as he continued his education career. In 1986, Mathabane crafted his autobiography, the Kaffir Boy and gained heights of fame as a writer. He kept up his literary work and produced Kaffir Boy in America: An Encounter with Apartheid in 1989, Love in Black and White: The Triumph of Love over Prejudice and Taboo in 1992, African Women: Three Generations in 1994, Ubuntu in 1999, Miriam’s Song in 2000 and the Proud Liberal in 2010. Today he stands as a well-known and respected writer and speaker.

My story has not reached such a historic peak but somehow for me, it is quite satisfactory. I was born in 1975 in a family living hand to mouth, certainly with no high aims. My father was a hawker, supporting a family of 6 people. As a child I used to get fascinated with toys, inquiring my parents if I could get them. In return, I always got excuses that were beyond my comprehension but they always conclude up to a point: if I wanted them I had to work harder. Unlike Marthabane, I luckily had parents who forced me to join the school. As reluctant as every child, I started my educational career at the age of nine. With the passage of time, I realized what my parents expect from me. Although it was always difficult for my parents to cope with the expenses, they made it possible for me to complete my secondary school. After that, I started part-time work as an apprentice at a shop to support my family and also joined college. After seven years of effort, I acquired a bachelor’s degree in commerce in the year 2001. Ever since then I started giving services as a private tutor and my financial problems faded away. As stated before, I have not achieved heights but life turned out to be much more pleasant with education.


Life may not be an easy journey, but with effort, courage, and devotion one may make it pleasant. Mark Mathabane is one prominent example whose life started with fear and humiliation but through courage and devotion he changed it to inspiration. Through education, he escaped his humiliating life and today he stands as a true source of inspiration for others confronting a similar fate.


Mark Mathabane, the Kaffir Boy:The True Story of a Black Youths Coming of Age in Apartheid South Africa, 1986, Macmillan, United States. Print

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