In Born a Crime South Africa born stand up comedian Trevor Noah recalls memories of his humble childhood as the interracial offspring of a black South African woman and a white Swiss/German man. At the time, “one of the worst crimes you could commit was having sexual relations with a person of another race,” as expressly stated in the Immortality Act quoted at the beginning of the book:
1. Any European male who has illicit carnal intercourse with a native female, and any native male who has illicit carnal intercourse with a European female…shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years.
2. Any native female who permits any European male to have illicit carnal intercourse with her and any European female who permits any native male to have illicit carnal intercourse with her shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to imprisonment for a period not exceeding four years….
As against these rules, Trevor’s parents had him and thus he was born a crime. And funny enough, most of his childhood was lived exactly as a testimony to this.
Many of his stories are highly relatable to every African child, especially when it comes to his narration of the religion of his people and their devotion to that religion, and then to the sacred art of a loving mother whooping a erring child in an attempt not to spare the rod. Trevor’s accounts were echoes of many African offsprings’.
Asides from the captivating, interesting and relatable stories that made up Trevor’s memoir, there are also a reasonable number of nice viewpoints stuck here and there.
For example, in a chapter simply titled Fufi after a dog they once owned in his family–a dog he referred to as “the love of my life” and of which he later said “Fufi was my first heartbreak”. Trevor narrated how the dog had this habit of sneaking off to a house in the nearby street when everyone is away and will return to lie at the gate before anyone comes back in the evening. He narrated how, one day, he eventually traced the dog to the house and on getting there he was confronted by a bigger surprise.
I went up to the gate and rang the doorbell. This colored kid answered.
“May I help you?” he said.
“Yeah. My dog is in your yard.”
“My dog. She’s in your yard.”
Fufi walked up and stood between us.
“Fufi, come!” I said. “Let’s go!”
This kid looked at Fufi and called her by some other stupid name, Spotty or some bullshit like that.
“Spotty, go back inside the house.”
“Whoa, whoa,” I said. “Spotty? That’s Fufi!”
“No, that’s my dog, Spotty.”
“No, that’s Fufi, my friend.”
“No, this is Spotty.”
That was how Trevor’s beloved dog was being claimed by a total stranger, and the dog didn’t act like it cared. This made young Trevor cry and when asked why he replied, “Because Fufi loved another boy.”
Fufi was my first heartbreak. No one has ever betrayed me more than Fufi. It was a valuable lesson to me. The hard thing was understanding that Fufi wasn’t cheating on me with another boy. She was merely living her life to the fullest. Until I knew that she was going out on her own during the day, her other relationship hadn’t affected me at all. Fufi had no malicious intent.
I believed that Fufi was my dog, but of course that wasn’t true. Fufi was a dog. I was a boy. We got along well. She happened to live in my house. That experience shaped what I’ve felt about relationships for the rest of my life: You do not own the thing that you love. I was lucky to learn that lesson at such a young age. I have so many friends who still, as adults, wrestle with feelings of betrayal. They’ll come to me angry and crying and talking about how they’ve been cheated on and lied to, and I feel for them. I understand what they’re going through. I sit with them and buy them a drink and I say, “Friend, let me tell you the story of Fufi.”
Altogether, Born a Crime is a recommended read–humorous yet educating, funny yet serious. You can order a copy from Amazon or listen to Trevor himself reading it with your one month free trial at Audible.