Biography of Mark Mathabane

Megan Allen

Early Life

Johannes Mathabane was born on October 18, 1960 in Alexandra, South Africa, which is just outside Johannesburg. He grew up taking care of his siblings and roughing the cold streets of the ghetto, and has witnessed countless acts of racial hate due to apartheid in South Africa. He changed his name from Johannes to Mark in 1976 during the Soweto Riots to protect himself from the white South African government,

Escape from South Africa and College Years

Mark met 1978 Wimbledon Champion, Stan Smith, who helped him recieve a tennis scholarship to Limestone College in Gaffney, South Carolina. Later, he transferred to St. Louis University, Missouri, and then on to Quincy College, Illinois, and then finally to Dowling College, New York, where he graduated. While attending Dowling College, he became the first black editor of the school's newspaper. While still in college, he started his autobiography, Kaffir Boy, which was published in 1986.


Mark has written a multitude of books, both fictional and realistic. These books include: Kaffir Boy, Kaffir Boy in America, Love in Black and White, African Women: Three Generations, Ubuntu, Miriam's Song, Deadly Memory and The Proud Liberal. Love in Black and White was co-authored with his wife Gail. He has recieved many awards for his books, including: 1986 Christopher Award and a 1996-1997 White House Fellowship. He was the speaker for the 2001 Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Award. Mark has appeared on an interview with Oprah Winfrey, and has made countless appearances on other television and news networks promoting the anti-apartheid cause.

Mark Today

He married a fellow writer, Gail Ernsberger, and they had three children, Bianca, Nathan, and Stanley. Today he lives in Portland, Oregon, and currently runs a non-profit organization titled, Magdalene Scholorship Fund. This organization provides scholarships, books, supplies, and uniforms for needy children attending the Bovet Primary School in Alexandra.
Author of Kaffir Boy, Mark Mathabane, Speaks at Schools

Connection to Kaffir Boy

Of course the obvious connection between Kaffir Boy and the biography of Mark Mathabane, is that Kaffir Boy is an autobiography written by Mark Mathabane. Through his book, he was able to show the afwul aspects of apartheid and communicate the issue worldwide. The circumstances seen in the book shaped his ultimate lide today and his accomplishments.

Works Cited

  • "Kaffir Boy: The True Story of a Black Youth's Coming of Age in Apartheid South Africa.", n.d. Web. 12 Feb. 2013.
  • "1976: The Soweto Riots." N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Feb. 2013.

  • "Make Mathabane - Educate,Empower and Inspire." Make Mathabane - Educate,Empower and Inspire. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Feb. 2013