The Benefits of Adversity in Kaffir Boy, a Book by Mark Mathabane

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What is adversity? Well, it is just another word for problem. Whenever someone encounters a problem, they are forced to make a decision. As a result of this decision making, a new experience is born. When people encounter different adversities, it is expected that panic mode will kick in. However, the majority of the time, this is not the case. Bad events tend to bring people together rather then drive them apart. People begin to put away there differences and anger to come together in times of desperate need.

In Kaffir Boy, Mark Mathabane does a great job of building the characters development and making clear the family relations. As we begin to understand the characters traits, we slowly understand the effects the characters have on each other. The conflicts between Johannes and his father reveal hopelessness about the families situation. He is a very traditional man who refuses to have anything to do with "white men". He said it was nonsense for a son of his to go to school and get a white man's education so he didn't have any interest in paying for Mark's schooling. But Mark's mother wanted so badly for him to be able to have an education even if it meant surpassing her husband's words. Mama Mathabane and Granny were a very key aspect in Mark's success. She had to get a job to pay for Mark's schooling but not the additional uniform. This caused Johannes to get beatings in school. At this point Johannes wanted to quit school. But as we know he has certain optimism mainly because of his education but he is also guided by his grandmother and mother to ultimately counteract his father's negativity towards him and continue school.

Another example would be the school protest. The Department of Bantu Education ordained that the african american schools are to teach Afrikaans (the language spoken in South Africa) instead of the English language. The students of the black schools stood together and began to protest against the speech of authority. The police blockaded the streets and began open fire upon the unarmed students. Hundreds were killed and injured leaving the remainder of surviving students devastated in the crying streets.

Kaffir Boy could be connected to the real world event that took place in Sacramento, Califomia. Twenty-two year old Stephen Clark was killed after reports of car and house break ins were present. After the officers told Stephen to put his hands up they thought they saw a gun in the black man's hand. After twenty rounds of bullets pierced his body, killing him immediately it was later concluded that the object in his hand was a mobile phone. The local Black Lives Matter group came together to protest against police brutality against blacks. This related to Kaffir Boy because of the live protest that took place in both the book and in the real world. Both protests were for black rights.

All in all, adversity teaches one to appreciate what they have therefore bringing people together. When people share their conflicts with those willing to listen it gives people the chance to understand one another, ultimately bringing people together. When groups have the same adversities, they work as a unit to conquer the issue.

Works Cited

  • http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-43512095
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The Benefits of Adversity in Kaffir Boy, a Book by Mark Mathabane. (2022, Dec 12). Retrieved June 21, 2024 , from
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