Coming of age experience essay - essays on citizenship


 

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coming of age experience essay

coming of age experience essayComing of age experience essay -He grew up in the black ghetto shantytown of Alexandra, outside of Johannesburg, South Africa, under the oppressive government system known as apartheid.Mark Mathabane, born Johannes Mathabane, begins by describing Alexandra, one of the many black shantytowns (sometimes called townships) created under apartheid.Mathabane does not lecture the reader; instead, the details of his story show what happens when racist brutality is made law.Frustrated, she goes into a violent frenzy, whipping the children indiscriminately and making Johannes increasingly skeptical about school.Nevertheless, he manages to finish the first year at the top of his class.Mathabane grew up in the terrifying shantytowns of Alexandra, outside of Johannesburg, South Africa.He confronts his mother about his desire to drop out, but she urges him to continue.His mother and grandmother have to tie him up and take him to see the principal, who makes it clear that Johannes will be physically punished if he does not go to school.He then went on to study journalism at Columbia University.Johannes's father, Jackson, belongs to the Venda tribe, and the family speaks a language called Venda.Later that year, Johannes has one of the most frightening experiences of his life.INTRODUCTIONPLOT SUMMARYTHEMESHISTORICAL OVERVIEWCRITICAL OVERVIEWCRITICISMSOURCESIn Kaffir Boy: The True Story of a Black Youth's Coming of Age in Apartheid South Africa, Mark Mathabane presents the remarkable story of his childhood and his rise to prominence as a journalist, lecturer, and humanitarian.Johannes's mother must flee because her pass does not have correct documentation; she leaves the children alone in their house.Now that apartheid has ended, the book still serves to demonstrate the horrifying consequences of institutionalized injustice and inequity.Mathabane writes that most of the boys involved later end up dead or in prison.His father takes the family to an evangelical service to show them that Christianity is foolish.In these urban slums, he witnessed and survived the most repressive period of apartheid, the South African government's system of legalized racism.His father is short-tempered and abusive, habits that only intensify in later years.Johannes and his sister Florah watch the chaos through a window until their baby brother George gashes his head in a fall.His mother spends much of her time looking for work or begging for money and food.coming of age experience essayKaffir Boy is an important political work, as well.His father insists on devotion to the tribal religion and continuously denounces Christianity, while his mother secretly, and later openly, accepts Christianity as a way to improve her family's circumstances.Mathabane's autobiography became an international bestseller and was translated into several languages.Mathabane describes significant events in the history of apartheid that were poorly covered by the Western press, such as the Sharpeville Massacre and the Soweto riots.He writes that apartheid laws allow "more than 90 percent of white South Africans go through a lifetime without seeing firsthand the inhuman conditions under which blacks have to survive." He defines his purpose as showing the white man "with words a world he would otherwise not see because of a sign and a conscience racked with guilt."Chapter 2 plunges the reader into these conditions, as they occur in Alexandra.Jackson returns from prison a bitter man, prone to drinking and gambling.They arrest as many residents as they can, for reasons ranging from not having a pass (an internal passport) to participating in a gang.When Mathabane was seven years old, his mother and grandmother collected enough money to send him to a local school.Johannes is particularly struck by the fact that there are nearly no men there; they must go to the cities to work in mines.He decides he would rather die than live on the reserve.As Mathabane explains in the preface, his goal in writing the book was to help abolish apartheid.Her first attempt fails because her brother, Piet, gets arrested; she has to use the money she had planned to use for Johannes to secure Piet's release.Johannes's mother explains to Johannes that she is sending him to school because she does not "want [him] growing up to be like [his] father," which shatters Johannes's resistance. Children crowd into an outside square to listen to long speeches from the principal and the teachers; they are then taken to overcrowded classrooms.As Johannes grows up, he begins to question and resent many aspects of his life, including his father's respect for tribal rules.He is unable to afford books or a uniform, and his teachers whip him frequently.In 1983, he graduated cum laude from Dowling University, where he was the first black editor of the college newspaper.The reserve is "mountainous, rugged and bonedry," and the people there lead empty, impoverished lives.He manages to get his old job back, but he squanders his money and the family still goes hungry.Most educated people and governments in the rest of the world knew about apartheid in a vague sense, but few knew the full extent of the South African government's stance.Johannes notices beds in the back of the room and begins to feel uncomfortable. coming of age experience essay Johannes remains opposed until his drunken father kicks the family out of the house, furious about his children going to school.In 1986, he published his first autobiography, Kaffir Boy, which won widespread recognition in the United States and Great Britain.Late in 1966, Johannes's father is arrested and imprisoned because his passbook is not in order.Several of the black men in the audience, including Johannes's father, denounce the minister and leave.Mathabane continues to write about South Africa, as well as his more recent experiences.Johannes spends his time with gangs of young boys to avoid troubles at home.At one point, the Mathabanes and other black families rummage through a garbage dump, searching for food and household items discarded by whites.The scene establishes a persistent conflict between Johannes's parents.In another raid, Johannes sees black policemen humiliate his father.Johannes's father has lost his job; worrying that witches have cursed him, he seeks help from a tribal witch doctor.She then takes Johannes to the appropriate office, where they stand in line for over twelve hours.One section, "The Road to Alexandra," offers a particularly relentless depiction of brutality and squalor.The following school year, Johannes's teachers beat him again for not having proper school supplies.This turns out to be a long and humiliating process, one that begins at four in the morning when she walks the younger children to their grandmother's house.From the first page, Mathabane shows his readers the devastating personal costs of institutionalized racism: destroyed families, demolished personal pride, psychological pain, and ceaseless physical suffering.His other books include Love in Black and White (1992), co-written by Mathabane's white American wife, Gail, about their experiences as an interracial couple; African Women (1994), a non-fiction account of his mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother's experiences; Ubuntu (1999), a fictional thriller set in South Africa; and Miriam's Song (2000), the story of Mark's younger sister Miriam's coming of age amid the violence of apartheid resistance.Johannes's trip to the Venda tribal reserve with his father is a defining moment in his intellectual development.Johannes's sister Maria is born during this time, making the food scarcity even worse.Johannes's success softens his father's prejudice against formal education.Mathabane's autobiography thus became an important historical document. coming of age experience essay Mathabane dwells on his own attitudes in the second half of the book, demonstrating how he overcomes his hatred for whites and learns to judge people as individuals.Though common in Alexandra, these raids strengthen Johannes's deep fear of and hatred toward black police officers and whites in general.As soon as she finds a job, she says, she is going to spend her first paycheck on schoolbooks for him.One night in 1965, the black Alexandra police, known as Peri-Urban, raid the township.Since its publication, Kaffir Boy has become a familiar part of high school and college curricula.Johannes's mother and grandmother collect enough money to send him to school, but Johannes refuses to go because he has heard horror stories about it from other boys.In 1967, Johannes has his first encounter with Christianity.Like Frederick Douglass's autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, and Richard Wright's Black Boy, Kaffir Boy makes real for readers events that are often lost in the abstraction of law and social policy.He believes tribal education is the only kind that matters—school is just another white man's trick.Part I ends when Johannes's mother tries to obtain the documents he needs to attend school.Without his support for almost a year, the family struggles to feed themselves.Johannes's teacher is an inexperienced young woman who cannot control her pupils.At the age of fourteen, he learned to play tennis, eventually becoming good enough to gain the attention of star American tennis player Stan Smith, who arranged for Mathabane to receive a scholarship to an American university.The boys call Johannes a fool for not participating, but Johannes realizes that in "the black world, one could only survive if one played the fool, and bided his time." He vows to keep his experience a secret but later discovers that such occurrences are common.Alexandra is where Mathabane grew up and where most of the book's events take place.Her third attempt is thwarted when bureaucrats demand Johannes's birth certificate.Kaffir Boy in America: An Encounter with Apartheid (1990) is a sequel to Kaffir Boy, in which Mathabane describes his life after coming to America and his struggles with American society.When Kaffir Boy was published in 1986, apartheid was still an official government policy in South Africa.His father hates Christianity; for him it is a white belief system used to oppress black men.Johannes's maternal grandmother contributes some money, but it is not enough and runs out quickly. coming of age experience essay Mathabane does not lecture the reader; instead, the details of his story show what happens when racist brutality is made law. coming of age experience essay




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