Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Extract From an Autobiography: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Our latest English assignment was to take an extract from an autobiography. I picked the new autobiography by South African comedian Trevor Noah, who is the host of The Daily Show, a satirical news and late-night show. This autobiography includes Noah's usual wit and satire, with which we have all been entertained by in his shows. However, it is also a very honest, thought-provoking, remarkable account of being born and growing up in apartheid South Africa. His book is a testament of the strength of his mother, and a testament of his love for her. I've included some reviews after the extract.

I would just like to reiterate that this extract is taken from Born a Crime, by Trevor Noah, and none of the work below belongs to me, or is mine. 


As much as I loved church, the idea of a nine-hour slog, from mixed church to white church to black church then doubling back to white church again, was just to much to contemplate. It was bad enough in a car, but taking public transport would be twice as long and twice as hard. When the Beetle refused to start, in my head I was praying, Please say we’ll just stay home. Please we’ll just stay home. Then I glanced over to see the determined look on my mother’s face, her jaw set, and I knew I had a long day ahead of me.
‘Come,’ she said, ‘we’re going to catch taxis.’

My mother’s as stubborn as she is religious. Once her mind is made up, that’s it. Indeed, obstacles that would normally lead a person to change their plan, like a car breaking down, only made her more determined to forge ahead. 
‘It’s the Devil,’ she said about the stalled car. ‘The Devil doesn’t want us to go to church. That’s why we’ve got to catch taxis.’
Whenever I found myself up against my mother’s faith-based obstinacy, I would try, as respectfully as possible, to counter with an opposing point of view.
‘Or,’ I said, ‘the Lord knows that today we shouldn’t go to church, which is why He made sure the car wouldn’t start, so that we stay at home as a family and take a day of rest, because even the Lord rested.’
‘Ah, that’s the Devil talking, Trevor.’
‘No, because Jesus is in control, and if Jesus is in control and we pray to Jesus, He would let the car start, but He hasn’t, therefore—’
‘No, Trevor! Sometimes Jesus puts obstacles in your way to see if you overcome them. Like Job. This could be a test.’
‘Ah! Yes, Mom. But the test could be to see if we’re willing to accept what has happened and stay at home and praise Jesus for His wisdom.’
‘No. That’s the Devil talking. Now go change your clothes.’
‘But, Mom!’
‘Trevor! Sun’qhela!’
Sun’qhela is a phrase with many shades of meaning. It says ‘don’t undermine me’, ‘don’t 
underestimate me’, and ‘just try me’. It’s a command and a threat, all at once. It’s a common thing for Xhosa parents to say to their kinds. Any tie I heard it I knew it meant the conversation was over, and if I uttered another word I was in for a hiding.
At the time I attended a private Catholic school called Maryvale College. I was the 
champion of the Maryvale sports day every single year, and mu mother won the moms’ trophy every single year. Why? Because she was always chasing me to kick my ass, and I was always running so as not to get my ass kicked. Nobody ran like me and my mom. She wasn’t one of those ‘Come over here and get your hiding’ type moms. She’d deliver it to you free of charge. She was a thrower, too. Whatever was next to her was coming at you. If it was something breakable, I’d have to catch it, put it down, and then run. In a split second, I’d have to think, Is it valuable? Yes. Is it breakable? Yes. Catch it, put it down, now run.
We had a very Tom-and-Jerry relationship, me and my mom. She was the strict 
disciplinarian; I was naughty as shit. She would send me out to buy groceries, and I wouldn't come right home because I’d be using the change from the milk and bread to play arcade games at the supermarket. I loved videogames. I was a master at Street Fighter. I could go forever on a single play. I’d drop a coin in, time would fly, and the next thing I know there’d be a woman behind me with a belt. It was a rave. I’d take off out the door and through the dusty streets of Eden Park, clambering over walls, ducking through backyards. It was a normal thing our neighbourhood. Everybody knew that Trevor child would come through like a bat out of hell, and his mom would be right there behind him. She could do at a full sprint in high heels, but if she really wanted to come after me she had this thing where she’d kick her shoes off while still going at top speed. She’d do this weird move with her ankles and the heels would go flying and she wouldn’t even miss a step. That’s when I knew, Okay, she’s in turbo mode now.
When I was little she always caught me, but as I got older I got faster, and when speed 
failed her she’d use her wits. If I was about to get away she’d yell, ‘Stop! Thief!’ She’d do this to her own child. In South Africa, nobody gets involved in other people’s business — unless it’s mob justice, and then everybody wants in. So she’d yell, ‘Thief!’ knowing it would bring the whole neighbourhood out against me, and then I’d have strangers trying to grab me and tackle me, and I’d have to duck and dive and dodge them as well, all the while screaming, ‘I’m not a thief! I’m her son!’
The last thing I wanted to do that Sunday morning was climb into some crowded minibus 

taxi, but the second I heard my mom say sun’qhela I knew my fate was sealed. She gathered up Andrew and we climbed out of the Beetle and went out to try and catch a ride.


 “[A] compelling new memoir . . . By turns alarming, sad and funny, [Trevor Noah’s] book provides a harrowing look, through the prism of Mr. Noah’s family, at life in South Africa under apartheid. . . . Born a Crime is not just an unnerving account of growing up in South Africa under apartheid, but a love letter to the author’s remarkable mother.”—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

“[An] unforgettable memoir.”Parade
 “What makes Born a Crime such a soul-nourishing pleasure, even with all its darker edges and perilous turns, is reading Noah recount in brisk, warmly conversational prose how he learned to negotiate his way through the bullying and ostracism. . . . What also helped was having a mother like Patricia Nombuyiselo Noah. . . . Consider Born a Crime another such gift to her—and an enormous gift to the rest of us.”—USA Today

“[Noah] thrives with the help of his astonishingly fearless mother. . . . Their fierce bond makes this story soar.”—People
“[Noah’s] electrifying memoir sparkles with funny stories . . . and his candid and compassionate essays deepen our perception of the complexities of race, gender, and class.”Booklist (starred review)

“A gritty memoir . . . studded with insight and provocative social criticism . . . with flashes of brilliant storytelling and acute observations.”Kirkus Reviews

1 comment:

  1. Ooo very interesting extract! Thank you for your continued support Jamie!! And thank you for the support on my blog by leaving a comment a while ago. I always try to return the love and support! Its great to have you back xxx

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