Born a Crime Book Cover

Born a Crime

Stories from a South African Childhood
Book by: Trevor Noah
Publishing Year: 2016
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Trevor Noah was born of a crime, of a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother, when interracial sex was punishable during apartheid in South Africa. He was the living evidence of his parents’ crime and for the first few years of his life, he was mostly kept indoors. Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood is the story of a young mischievous boy looking for his footing in a world where he was not even supposed to exist. Noah observes the absurdities of class and race, the politics of gender and identity. This book is also characterised by humour and insights that he draws from his very eventful life.

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Lesson 1. Apartheid in Africa.

Most of us are very well acquainted with the name, Trevor Noah. He is a world-famous actor, comedian and the host of the very popular, The Daily Show. Yet, there is a lot that we do not know about him. Trevor Noah’s very existence was a crime and his upbringing, nothing short of extraordinary. Noah was born in South Africa, during the deplorable practice of apartheid. 

The system of apartheid can be dated back to the middle of the 17th Century, when the Dutch traders enslaved indigenous people after settling in the Cape of Good Hope. Later, in the 1800s, when the British began to take control, these Dutch settlers moved inland and developed their own culture. These people, now known as the Afrikaners, took over again once the British left and established some 3000 pages of an oppressive code of law based on white supremacy to suppress the predominantly black population. During 1948 to the early 1990s, this system of racial segregation was enforced in the country. 

One important way to keep the races from mixing was to criminalize interracial sex. This was important for a racist structure to function seamlessly, because mixing would undermine racism to a huge extent. In the case of transgression, men were imprisoned for up to five years, while women were imprisoned for up to four. But in reality, black men were often charged with rape if they engaged sexually with a white woman. This was so important to the regime that special forces were deployed to spy on people and make sure that there was no transgression of this racist rule. 

It was into this dystopian world of racial segregation that Noah was born. His father was white and his mother was black. He was the living evidence of a crime that could send both his parents to prison.

Lesson 2. Robert and Patricia.

When Noah’s mother, Patricia, was in Johannesburg, working as a secretary, he met a man named Robert. Robert lived in the same block of flats where Patricia lived, and on the same floor. Both of them spent a lot of time together and eventually the two fell in love. She asked Robert for a baby, despite the law forbidding them from doing so. Robert agreed and Noah was born on 20th February, 1984. Robert and Patricia were so different from each other that one would be forced to admit that opposites indeed attract. Their differences were more than skin deep. 

Noah’s father was of Swiss-German descent and had moved to South Africa in the late 1970s. He was

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Famous quotes from Born a Crime

  1. We tell people to follow their dreams, but you can only dream of what you can imagine, and, depending on where you come from, your imagination can be quite limited.
  2. -Trevor Noah

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About the author

Trevor Noah Image

Trevor Noah, a South African comedian, writer, and TV host, gained international acclaim as the host of “The Daily Show.” His memoir, “Born a Crime,” vividly portrays his upbringing during apartheid, blending humor with insightful co...

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Chapter List
  • Lesson 1. Apartheid in Africa.
  • Lesson 2. Robert and Patricia.
  • Lesson 3. Noah and his Mother.
  • Lesson 5. Noah’s Education. 
  • Lesson 4. The Power Struggle Between the Zulus and the Xhosas.
  • Lesson 6. The Ambivalence of Being ‘Coloured’.
  • Lesson 7. Noah and his CD Business.
  • Lesson 8. Noah’s experience with Law and Privilege.
  • Lesson 9. Crime was Rampant in South Africa.
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FAQs

In the summary of Born a Crime book, there are 9 key lessons. These lessons include:

  1. Lesson 1. Apartheid in Africa.
  2. Lesson 2. Robert and Patricia.
  3. Lesson 3. Noah and his Mother.
  4. Lesson 5. Noah’s Education. 
  5. Lesson 4. The Power Struggle Between the Zulus and the Xhosas.
  6. Lesson 6. The Ambivalence of Being ‘Coloured’.
  7. Lesson 7. Noah and his CD Business.
  8. Lesson 8. Noah’s experience with Law and Privilege.
  9. Lesson 9. Crime was Rampant in South Africa.

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah was published in 2016.

Once you've completed Born a Crime book, We suggest reading out Essential Art Therapy Exercises as a great follow-up read.

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