Summary

Trevor Noah’s autobiography Born a Crime presents Trevor’s experiences growing up in South Africa during the apartheid system. The autobiography presents Trevor’s personal stories, which are mixed with his thoughts about the history of South Africa. Trevor’s book mainly focuses on Patricia Nombuyiselo Noah, his mother, whose influence has shaped him growing up. 

Trevor talks about Christianity and its influence on his mother, who used to take her family to three different churches every Sunday. Trevor remembers a Sunday when he was nine when the family’s car was broken, and the family was forced to wait for a minibus to go to church. When the minibus fails to arrive, Trevor’s mother decides to hitchhike. However, an angry minibus driver sees her in the stranger’s car and criticizes her for being Xhosa and for traveling unaccompanied by a man. She and Trevor board the minibus but the man becomes aggressive. Trevor recalls that his mother threw him out of the minibus, followed him, and ran until safety, as she was sure the minibus driver was going to kill them. 

During apartheid, the system of racial classification labeled Trevor as colored, his mother as black, and his father, Robert, as white. The racial classification relocated black and colored South Africans to poorer areas, like Soweto, the township where Trevor’s grandmother lived. Trevor talks about how his mother managed to find a job in Johannesburg, where she met his father, a forty-six-year-old Swiss man. Although relationships between whites and blacks were forbidden, Trevor was born. He often spent time in Soweto, where, until the end of apartheid, he was not allowed t...

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